The Factor Of Ignorance

"Safety factor." It's probably one of the most common, and most misused, terms in engineering.

The "factor of safety" might be better described as a "factor of ignorance". It's a multiplier, applied to loads and/or structural components in a design, to account for things that weren't explicitly taken into account in the design calculations. Those things could include variations in material quality or workmanship, uncertain overload conditions, accidents, and other hard-to-predict conditions that could cause a failure.

Back On Track

Our little hiatus is over. We're settled in, the essential work is done, and it's time to get back to the boat.

The next thing on the Starwind 860 build schedule is to finish up the crossbeams. Today, with perfect weather and (for the first time ever) plenty of space to work, we laminated the lower flanges of both forward beams.

Weak Links

Is there an advantage to designed-in weak links, where a cheap and easily replaced part fails so that a more expensive one can be saved?
In many cases, there is; nevertheless, we shouldn't apply this design philosophy to everything we design.


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