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# Week 7: Space Trusses Engineering Mechanics

## WEEK 7: SPACE TRUSSES

Contents
1. LEARNING OUTCOMES ................................................................................................. 1
2. INTRODUCTION .............................................................................................................. 1
3. ANALYSIS OF SPACE TRUSSES ................................................................................... 2
4. EXAMPLE ON ANALYSIS OF SPACE TRUSS [1] ....................................................... 3

1. LEARNING OUTCOMES

At the end of this lesson, the student should be able to analyse space trusses using the
Method of Joints and the Method of Sections.

2. INTRODUCTION

1. A space truss consists of members joined together at their ends to form a stable three-
dimensional structure. The simplest form of a space truss is a tetrahedron, formed by
connecting six members together (Figure 1). Removing a member from this truss would
make the latter unstable and adding a member to this truss would make the latter statically
indeterminate by one degree.

Figure 1 Simplest form of space truss – a Figure 2 Ball-and-socket joints for the
tetrahedron [1] connections in typical roof-supporting
space truss [1]

2. Space trusses are used for roof trusses (Figure 2), electrical transmission towers (Figure
3), etc. For roof space trusses, the members are joined together at their ends with ball-
and-socket joints to allow frictionless rotations about the joint, akin to the frictionless pins
of two-dimensional plane trusses.

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Week 7: Space Trusses Engineering Mechanics

## 3. ANALYSIS OF SPACE TRUSSES

1. The treatment and analysis of space trusses is similar to that of plane trusses. The
differences are presented in Table 1

## Attributes Plane trusses Space trusses

Simplest truss 3 members and 3 joints 6 members and 6 joints
To add to the truss… Add 2 members and 1 joint Add 3 members and 1 joint
Using Method of Joints Use Σ𝐹𝑥 = 0 and Σ𝐹𝑦 = 0 at Use Σ𝐹𝑥 = 0, Σ𝐹𝑦 = 0 and
joints with a min. of 1 known Σ𝐹𝑧 = 0 at joints with a min.
force and a max. of 2 of 1 known force and a max.
unknown forces of 3 unknown forces
Using Method of Sections Use Σ𝐹𝑥 = 0, Σ𝐹𝑦 = 0 and Use Σ𝐹𝑥 = 0, Σ𝐹𝑦 = 0,
Σ𝑀𝑧 = 0 on partial FBDs Σ𝐹𝑧 = 0, Σ𝑀𝑥 = 0, Σ𝑀𝑦 = 0
with no more than 3 and Σ𝑀𝑧 = 0 on partial
unknown forces FBDs with no more than 6
unknown forces
Internal statical Use m + r = 2j Use m + r = 3j
determinancy

## 2. It is advisable to use Cartesian vector analysis when working with three-dimensional

system of forces. Note that in print, the labels for vectors are bolded, while when
handwritten, they should be underlined or have a right-pointing arrow above them.

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Week 7: Space Trusses Engineering Mechanics

## 4. EXAMPLE ON ANALYSIS OF SPACE TRUSS [1]

REFERENCES

[1] Hibbeler RC. Engineering Mechanics: Statics & Dynamics. 12th Ed. New Jersey:
Pearson Prentice Hall; 2010.

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