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im just looking for somthing free that i can use to figure out when different materials will bend past the point where they spring back. like put in the type of material, like mild steel, 2x2" box .25" wall and a length and figure out how much force it would take to bend it. i've looked online and cant find anything, and something like solidworks is big money for what i wanna tinker with.

anybody use anything like this?
 

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The mechanical properties of structures are complex and you won't find any simple way to do that. There are tables of engineering specifications for all kinds of tubing and structural steel. Here is one that lists some common engineering specs for rectangular and square steels. Without some engineering background however, the terms and implications may not be clear. A publication called Machinary Handbook has lots of useful formulae and some explanations. You would also need an understanding of static and dynamic forces.

http://www.steeltubeinstitute.org/pdf/brochures/dimension_brochure.pdf

Teryx
 

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Keep an eye on e-bay and what not for this book. It's got a lot of good info and has enough examples you can figure out the terms. It's one of the only books I actually still open now that I'm out of school.

Shigleys
 
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