What Are Space Trusses?

A space truss is the three-dimensional counterpart of the plane truss described in the three previous articles. The idealized space truss consists of rigid links connected at their ends by ball-and-socket joints.

Whereas a triangle of pin-connected bars forms the basic noncollapsible unit for the plane truss, a space truss, on the other hand, requires six bars joined at their ends to form the edges of a tetrahedron as the basic noncollapsible unit.

In Fig. 4/13a the two bars AD and BD joined at D require a third support CD to keep the triangle ADB from rotating about AB. In Fig. 4/13b the supporting base is replaced by three more bars AB, BC, and AC to form a tetrahedron not dependent on the foundation for its own rigidity.

We may form a new rigid unit to extend the structure with three additional concurrent bars whose ends are attached to three fixed joints on the existing structure. Thus, in Fig. 4/13c the bars AF, BF, and CF are attached to the foundation and therefore fix point F in space.

Likewise point H is fixed in space by the bars AH, DH, and CH. The three additional bars CG, FG, and HG are attached to the three fixed points C, F, and H and therefore fix G in space. The fixed point E is similarly created.

We see now that the structure is entirely rigid. The two applied loads shown will result in forces in all of the members. A space truss formed in this way is called a simple space truss.

Ideally there must be point support, such as that given by a balland- socket joint, at the connections of a space truss to prevent bending in the members.

As in riveted and welded connections for plane trusses, if the center lines of joined members intersect at a point, we\ can justify the assumption of two-force members under simple tension and compression.

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