, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 339-345

Stability problems in optimised chairs?

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Summary

Chairs and other furniture are seldom designed by help of structural mechanics and modern computers. Even if the designer uses a sophisticated CAD program, he, or she, will not use for example, finite element programs, FEM, in order to optimise the construction. Most furniture is made of wood or wood composites. Usually, structural mechanics is used for designing wood members in roof constructions and so forth. Because of the consequences of a breakdown, the allowable design stresses must be very low, about one third of the measured breaking strength. Smaller wood details could be chosen with more care and for chairs the result of a break would not necessarily lead to a disaster. However, a lot of the knowledge about how to design small wood structures emanates from the pre-war aeroplane industry. The difference between tensile and compression strength properties in wood also makes ordinary FEM programs hazardous to use because the background theory assumes that these properties are equal in magnitude. In this paper we show how to calculate the internal stresses of an undetermined chair frame and also show some material test results for Swedish alder, Alnus glutinosa.

This work has been financed by NUTEK, the Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical Development. The author also wish to thank Dr. Lars Bernspång at the Luleå University of Technology, division of structural mechanics, for invaluable help with all calculations