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This chapter is from the book

1.2 Scope of Treatment

As stated in the preface, this book is intended for advanced undergraduate and graduate engineering students as well as engineering professionals. To make the text as clear as possible, attention is given to the fundamentals of solid mechanics and chapter objectives. A special effort has been made to illustrate important principles and applications with numerical examples. Emphasis is placed on a thorough presentation of several classical topics in advanced mechanics of materials and applied elasticity and of selected advanced topics. Understanding is based on the explanation of the physical behavior of members and then modeling this behavior to develop the theory.

The usual objective of mechanics of material and theory of elasticity is the examination of the load-carrying capacity of a body from three standpoints: strength, stiffness, and stability. Recall that these quantities relate, respectively, to the ability of a member to resist permanent deformation or fracture, to resist deflection, and to retain its equilibrium configuration. For instance, when loading produces an abrupt shape change of a member, instability occurs; similarly, an inelastic deformation or an excessive magnitude of deflection in a member will cause malfunction in normal service. The foregoing matters, by using the fundamental principles (Sec. 1.3), are discussed in later chapters for various types of structural members. Failure by yielding and fracture of the materials under combined loading is taken up in detail in Chapter 4.

Our main concern is the analysis of stress and deformation within a loaded body, which is accomplished by application of one of the methods described in the next section. For this purpose, the analysis of loads is essential. A structure or machine cannot be satisfactory unless its design is based on realistic operating loads. The principal topics under the heading of mechanics of solids may be summarized as follows:

  1. Analysis of the stresses and deformations within a body subject to a prescribed system of forces. This is accomplished by solving the governing equations that describe the stress and strain fields (theoretical stress analysis). It is often advantageous, where the shape of the structure or conditions of loading preclude a theoretical solution or where verification is required, to apply the laboratory techniques of experimental stress analysis.
  2. Determination by theoretical analysis or by experiment of the limiting values of load that a structural element can sustain without suffering damage, failure, or compromise of function.
  3. Determination of the body shape and selection of the materials that are most efficient for resisting a prescribed system of forces under specified conditions of operation such as temperature, humidity, vibration, and ambient pressure. This is the design function.

The design function, item 3, clearly relies on the performance of the theoretical analyses under items 1 and 2, and it is to these that this text is directed. Particularly, emphasis is placed on the development of the equations and methods by which detailed analysis can be accomplished.

The ever-increasing industrial demand for more sophisticated structures and machines calls for a good grasp of the concepts of stress and strain and the behavior of materials—and a considerable degree of ingenuity. This text, at the very least, provides the student with the ideas and information necessary for an understanding of the advanced mechanics of solids and encourages the creative process on the basis of that understanding. Complete, carefully drawn free-body diagrams facilitate visualization, and these we have provided, all the while knowing that the subject matter can be learned best only by solving problems of practical importance. A thorough grasp of fundamentals will prove of great value in attacking new and unfamiliar problems.

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