From a weightless bent wire coat hanger to shell structures via the beltrami stress tensor
Journal article, 2017

A weightless wire coat hanger bent out of its plane is one of the simplest possible structures. All it does is transfer a force and moment around a closed space curve. Assembling a family of coat hangers enables us to build up trusses and frames and if we allow an infinite number of coat hangers which overlap we can assemble plates, shells and fully three dimensional structures. We can apply loads to these structures via a loading frame and wires, also made from coat hangers. A wire carrying an electric current produces a magnetic field in the space surrounding the wire. For the bent coat hanger we can imagine that there is a vector field surrounding the wire as a result of the force and moment in the wire. We can use this vector field to obtain expressions for the forces and moments in a shell in equilibrium with applied loads.

Cauchy stress

Coat hanger

Cosserat moment

Shell structures

Airy stress function

Beltrami stress function


Samar Malek

US Naval Academy

Allan McRobie

University of Cambridge

Paul Shepherd

University of Bath

Christopher John Kenneth Williams

Chalmers, Architecture

Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures

1028-365X (ISSN) 19969015 (eISSN)

Vol. 58 1 39-50

Subject Categories

Materials Engineering



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5/2/2018 7