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Im planning on making a tray for my truck/ute and want obviously need to work out the number and position of beams as well as the sort of material (cross sectional area to accommodate loads). how do i go about doing this?

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The basic structural theories involved take up entire textbooks. There's also a fair amount of judgement involved with something like this, such as how much dynamic load factor to apply. Judgement requires experience. You could probably do just as well by looking at similar commercially available structures and doing something similar. –  bcworkz Apr 3 at 16:46

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