Load, stress and strain

When engineers and architects design a machine or structure, they need to calculate exactly what forces will be exerted on it (put pressure on it ). In these forces are called loads.

Calculations to predict what will occur when components are loaded are a fundamental part of the design process.

Architects and engineers will have to calculate:

  • The magnitude (size) of each load
  • The direction of the load -e.g. vertically or horizontally.

This is because Load is a vector quantity (or vector), a measurement with both a magnitude and a direction. The magnitude is an example of a scalar quantity, which has magnitude only.

A component is usually acted on by more than one force at the same time, several different loads will act on the components in a machine, or the members (parts) of a structure simultaneously.

A component or member which is designed to carry (or bear) a load is called a load-bearing component or member e.g. a load bearing wall.

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