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Mechanics: Statics

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Moment of a Force
  Rigid Body

Moment of a Force

In many practical applications, an object subjects to a system of forces cannot be treated as a single particle. By assuming the object as a collection of particles, forces can be considered as acting on different partilcles with different points of application on the object.  The force acts on the particle at the point of application on the object will cause the particle to move or translate in the direction of the force. The force acts upon the whole object may therefore twist, or rotate the object. The tendency of a force to rotate an object about a point or an axis is called moment, or moment of a force.

Rigid Body

To simplify the problem, the interested object in elementary mechanics can be assumed to be a rigid body in which deformation is neglected when external forces exterted on it. The external forces are those external action acting on the object externally and causing it to move or to remain at rest. There are also internal forces which act between particles to hold particles together forming the rigid body or act between components to hold component parts together forming the rigid body, or the rigid structure.


The moment of a force about a point is defined as the product of the force, F, along a line of action and the perpendicular distance, d, between the line of action of the force and the point of reference. Moment of a force about a point determines the tendency to rotate the object about the reference point. The reference point is the center of moment and the perpendicular distance is the moment arm or lever arm of the rotation.


Therefore, the magnitude of the moment , M, concerning with the rotational force can be expressed as:

image  or  image

Moment also have both sense and direction. The sense of moment indicates the direction of the rotational force following the right hand rule. And the direction of moment specifies the axis of rotation associated with the rotational force. Therefore, a moment vector at the reference point can be used to represent the moment due to the force about a reference point


By the principle of transmissibility,  the force, F, can be replaced by a force acting on a different point with the same magnitude and same direction along the same line of action without changing the conditions of equilibrium or motion of a rigid body.



  1. I.C. Jong; B.G. rogers, 1991, Engineering Mechanics: Statics and Dynamics, Saunders College Publishing, United States of America
  2. F.P. Beer; E.R. Johnston,Jr.; E.R. Eisenberg, 2004, Vector Mechanics for Engineers: Statics, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., New York

ID: 110500013 Last Updated: 6/2/2011 Revision: 0 Ref:


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