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# Finding the center of mass coordinates for an object of uniform density but

## non-uniform shape can be done without double integrals. As an example, we will

find the center of mass of a triangle with a vertices located at the origin, x 0
and x 0 , where is the slope of the line that creates the triangle.

x0

x0

For shapes with a uniform density, the x coordinate for center of mass is given by
x dm , where dm is the differential mass and M is the total mass of
X cm =
M
the object. However, since this object is has the same density everywhere
x dA
throughout, we can re-write as
, where equals the density.
A
x dA .
Density will cancel and the center of mass can now be written as X cm =
A
To calculate the center of mass, the differential area dA must be written in
terms of x. To do this, consider that the triangle is made up of infinitely many
rectangles, each with length dx and a height of x . So the differential area
can be written as dA=xdx . This is shown in the graph below.

dx

## Substituting this definition of dA into our original equation, we can obtain

x 2 dx

X cm =
x30
2
X
.
Evaluating
this
integral
from
0
to
gives
. After
0
x 0
3
2
canceling terms and simplifying with the denominator, the center of mass for any
2 X0
triangle can be given as X cm =
3

## For 3-dimensional shapes the same technique can be used. To demonstrate an

example, imagine a bucket filled to the top with water. It has a bottom radius of
R1 and a top radius of R2 and a height of H. Lastly, it has volume V. Since
this bucket is filled with water, and we neglect the insignificant mass of the
bucket, then the density is uniform. It is also important to realize that the center
of mass must be located along the center of the bucket, because the bucket is
ydV ,
symmetric. So the y coordinate for center of mass is given by Y cm =
V
where V equals volume. A diagram of the object is represented below.

## In order to evaluate the integral, it is necessary to express dV in

terms of dy . One way to do this is to realize that a bucket is simply
infinitely many cylinders of height dy and a certain radius. If we
recognize that the radius changes linearly, then we can restate the
radius in terms of y. So, the radius of the bucket at any point takes on a
slope intercept form, where

R
( 2R 1) y
h
R=R1 +
Next, we need to examine what
dV

is a cylinder of height

dy

R
( 2R 1) y
h
R=R1 +
dV

## Since this differential volume has the shape of a cylinder, then

R
( 2R 1) y
)2 . Substituting this equation of dV into the center of
h
R1 +
dV = dy
R

2R
(
1) y
h
R1 +

## mass equation gives

. (It is important to note that y must
2
ydy

Y cm=
be bounded between 0 and h, so this will be integrated from 0 to h.)
Lastly a final substitution can be made for the total volume V . The

## volume can be written as the sum of the volume of the infinite

R
( 2R 1) y
h
R1 +

cylindrical disks or
dy
h

V =
Our final equation for center of mass looks something like this;
R
( 2R 1) y
h
R1 +

R
( 2R 1) y
h
R1 +
. Evaluating these integrals yields

dy
h

ydy

Y cm=
2

## R21 h2 2 ( R2R1 ) R1 h ( R2 R1)2 h2

+
+
2
3
4
Y cm =
(R R1 )2 h
R 21 h+ ( R 2R1 ) R1 h+ 2
3
This is a really ugly formula, however it is useful to be able to saying
something general about the center of mass of any bucket shaped
object.