why triangles are the strongest shape for design

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why triangles are the strongest shape for design

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Triangles are typically the strongest shape to use in a frame, when loads are applied to the node points, in a direction that is not perpendicular to the plane of the frame.

This is because in order for a node to deflect the members that connect to it must stretch and compress, this is in comparison to shapes with more sides where the sides can stay the same length while the members bend.

Because of how the math works out for the structural properties, the strength and rigidity of virtually any section (shape of the pieces you’re making the frame out of) is higher in tension/compression than in bending. So if you can force all pieces to be in tension/compression rather than in bending you’ll end up with a stronger frame.

In other applications triangles are not the strongest shape – examples are arches and suspension structures where the ideal shape is typically somewhere between a catenary and a parabolic curve (depending on load distribution) and for shapes intended to contain pressure (tanks) a cylinder/sphere is the strongest- in both cases because for the loads applied they force all forces to be in tension and compression.

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