Structural integrity and failure is an aspect of engineering that deals with the ability of a structure to support a designed structural load (weight, force, etc.) without breaking. It also includes the study of past structural failures to prevent failures in future designs.

Structural integrity is the ability of an item—either a structural component or a structure consisting of many components—to hold together under a load, including its weight, without breaking or deforming excessively. It assures that the construction will perform its designed function during reasonable use, for as long as its intended life span. Items are constructed with structural integrity to prevent catastrophic failure, which can result in injuries, severe damage, death, and/or monetary losses.

Structural integrity is the ability of a structure to withstand its intended loading without failing due to fracture, deformation, or fatigue. It is a concept often used in engineering to produce items that will serve their designed purposes and remain functional for a desired service life.

To construct an item with structural integrity, an engineer must first consider a material’s mechanical properties, such as toughness, strength, weight, hardness, and elasticity, and then determine the size and shape necessary for the material to withstand the desired load for a long life. Since members can neither break nor bend excessively, they must be both stiff and tough. In cases where components are constructed of uncommon shapes or where the component’s minimum structural thickness, tc, may govern, in RBI analysis the user may use the tc instead of tmin.


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