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110" Paper tower

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I just started my engineering class and as our first assignment we are supposed to compete with other groups in our class to see who can make the highest tower using only 3 sheets of 8.5" X 11" A4 paper and a meter long strip of scotch tape. The highest on record is 110".


So far, I've concluded to get the most out my sheets of paper I would need to cut the paper into 11/16" X 11" strips. This leaves me with 36 of these strips along with 3 1/4" X 11" 'leftover' strips that can be used for anything. It would be appreciated if you leave your input as to how I should go about this and at least attempting to beat the 110" tower.



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Roll the uncut sheets of paper to make it curl lengthwise. After you cut the strips, curl them into 11" long tubes and tape them together. I suppose it must be free standing, so you must use some of the 11th strip to make a base.


However, if you make the entire structure a very tall cone, it would more stable as there would be less mass at the top. Instead of cutting identical 11/16" strips, you will have to plan a more complex cut. The cone should be free standing, without an additional base.

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Before I reply, I should say that I am not a civil engineer, and this is not my expertise.


Rolling paper into tubes sounds like a good idea. I agree with EdEarl that you probably want even thinner tubes (or cones?) near the top. Maybe for your very top of the spire, you don't even have to make a perfect tube? I can imagine that if you take a very thin piece of paper, that was previously rolled very tightly into a tube, it will stay straight even without tape.


It sounds to me like your material is very limiting, and you probably want to use good tools to shape the paper into useful parts. Use a good cutter for perfect straight cuts, and use a tool to roll it into perfect tubes.


As for the joints, that you'll have to figure out yourself.


And once again, I'm no expert.

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Other than cutting the paper into strips, what has the OP offered for us to solve his problem for him?


What are you thoughts raiool?


The exercise is not about beating the 'record', it is about gaining a feel for engineering. How will us telling you the solution help your engineering education?


+1 john cuthber for a perceptive comment.

Edited by studiot
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Asking for ideas in Internet forums is meanwhile common practice in the industry and research, so I see no reason why students wouldn't learn that too wink.png . At least raiool's quest is not disguised and is for good purposes.


One option is to alternate cones and cylinders as the tower gets broader at the base, because angle stiffen the shell, which is important against buckling. Some power pylons were built that way.


This may suffice even at the base, since 3 paper sheets are light. Alternate often enough there. If a single cone-and-cylinder doesn't suffice, you'll have to resort to a truss, which requires more work.

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