937. The Area Ratio Method


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P W Scott: 937. The Area Ratio Method. 1972, (L. R. ‘Mike’ Hackney Award).



The area ratio method is a solution to the problem of rapidly defining and optimizing structural members to satisfy specific structural requirements. The area ratio method is of primary value to those performing structural weight prediction, weight optimization and design functions. The basic approach employed in the area ratio method is to define the structural shape factors as a function of the ratio of areas of the elements, e.g. flange area to web area, that compose a structural cross section. Geometrical parameters which are of secondary importance in defining the properties of the structural configuration are eliminated, thereby simplifying the design problem to the point where the primary structural parameters can be fully investigated. Finally, the structural shape factors are optimized with respect to the area ratios. The area ratio method has the following attributes: – It is time saving because relatively rapid solutions can be obtained by virtue of its adaptability to the use of design charts and its ability to frequently provide explicit solutions instead of requiring ‘cut-and-try’ or other iterative approaches. – Optimization of structural efficiency and minimization of structural weight are readily aided by the capability of easily comparing structural configurations to determine those of primary interest. The optimum proportions of those configurations of primary interest can usually be determined quite easily. – The principles presented are general and may be employed for a variety of loads, materials, structural shapes, etc. – Its directness through emphasis on the primary parameters that determine structural efficiency and the visualization provided by the design curves aids the user in developing a rational comprehension of optimum design.


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