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Size and spacing of holes in beams key to avoiding failure
Making beams shorter may not stave off buckling.
Engineers often make structures such as buildings and bridges lighter by incorporating beams containing holes. But over the past decade, theoretical work and lab experiments have shown that ‘holey’ beams may be subject to buckling in unusual patterns. When force is applied to such beams, every other hole deforms vertically, and the remaining holes deform horizontally, leading to the beam’s collapse.