 Beam (structure)

A beam is a horizontal structural element that is capable of withstanding load primarily by resisting bending. The bending force induced into the material of the beam as a result of the external loads, own weight, span and external reactions to these loads is called a bending moment.
Contents
Overview
Beams generally carry vertical gravitational forces but can also be used to carry horizontal loads (i.e., loads due to an earthquake or wind). The loads carried by a beam are transferred to columns, walls, or girders, which then transfer the force to adjacent structural compression members. In light frame construction the joists rest on the beam.
Types of beams
Beams are characterized by their profile (the shape of their crosssection), their length, and their material. In contemporary construction, beams are typically made of steel, reinforced concrete, or wood. One of the most common types of steel beam is the Ibeam or wideflange beam (also known as a "universal beam" or, for stouter sections, a "universal column"). This is commonly used in steelframe buildings and bridges. Other common beam profiles are the Cchannel, the hollow structural section beam, the pipe, and the angle.
Beams are also described by how they are supported. Supports restrict lateral and/or rotational movements so as to satisfy stability conditions as well as to limit the deformations to a certain allowance. A simple beam is supported by a pin support at one end and a roller support at the other end. A beam with a laterally and rotationally fixed support at one end with no support at the other end is called a cantilever beam. A beam simply supported at two points and having one end or both ends extended beyond the supports is called an overhanging beam.
Structural characteristics
Moment of inertia
Main article: Moment of inertiaThe moment of inertia of an object about a given axis describes how difficult it is to change its angular motion about that axis. Therefore, it encompasses not just how much mass the object has overall, but how far each bit of mass is from the axis. The farther out the object's mass is, the more rotational inertia the object has, and the more force is required to change its rotation rate.
Stress in beams
Internally, beams experience compressive, tensile and shear stresses as a result of the loads applied to them. Typically, under gravity loads, the original length of the beam is slightly reduced to enclose a smaller radius arc at the top of the beam, resulting in compression, while the same original beam length at the bottom of the beam is slightly stretched to enclose a larger radius arc, and so is under tension. The same original length of the middle of the beam, generally halfway between the top and bottom, is the same as the radial arc of bending, and so it is under neither compression nor tension, and defines the neutral axis (dotted line in the beam figure). Above the supports, the beam is exposed to shear stress. There are some reinforced concrete beams in which the concrete is entirely in compression with tensile forces taken by steel tendons. These beams are known as prestressed concrete beams, and are fabricated to produce a compression more than the expected tension under loading conditions. High strength steel tendons are stretched while the beam is cast over them. Then, when the concrete has cured, the tendons are slowly released and the beam is immediately under eccentric axial loads. This eccentric loading creates an internal moment, and, in turn, increases the moment carrying capacity of the beam. They are commonly used on highway bridges.
The primary tool for structural analysis of beams is the Euler–Bernoulli beam equation. Other mathematical methods for determining the deflection of beams include "method of virtual work" and the "slope deflection method". Engineers are interested in determining deflections because the beam may be in direct contact with a brittle material such as glass. Beam deflections are also minimized for aesthetic reasons. A visibly sagging beam, even if structurally safe, is unsightly and to be avoided. A stiffer beam (high modulus of elasticity and high second moment of area) produces less deflection.
Mathematical methods for determining the beam forces (internal forces of the beam and the forces that are imposed on the beam support) include the "moment distribution method", the force or flexibility method and the direct stiffness method.
General shapes
Most beams in reinforced concrete buildings have rectangular cross sections, but the most efficient cross section for a simply supported beam is an I or H section. Because of the parallel axis theorem and the fact that most of the material is away from the neutral axis, the second moment of area of the beam increases, which in turn increases the stiffness.
An Ibeam is only the most efficient shape in one direction of bending: up and down looking at the profile as an I. If the beam is bent side to side, it functions as an H where it is less efficient. The most efficient shape for both directions in 2D is a box (a square shell) however the most efficient shape for bending in any direction is a cylindrical shell or tube. But, for unidirectional bending, the I or wide flange beam is superior.^{[citation needed]}
Efficiency means that for the same cross sectional area (volume of beam per length) subjected to the same loading conditions, the beam deflects less.
Other shapes, like L (angles), C (channels) or tubes, are also used in construction when there are special requirements.
See also
 Beam engine
 Building code
 Cantilever
 Classical mechanics
 Deflection (engineering)
 Elasticity (physics) and Plasticity (physics)
 Euler–Bernoulli beam equation
 Flexural modulus
 Finite element method in structural mechanics
 Free body diagram
 Influence line
 Materials science and Strength of materials
 Moment (physics)
 Poisson's ratio
 Post and lintel
 Shear strength
 Statics and Statically indeterminate
 Stress (physics) and Strain (materials science)
 Tensile strength, tensile stress and Hooke's law
 Thinshell structure
 Truss
 Yield (engineering)
Further reading
 Popov, Egor P. (1968). Introduction to mechanics of solids. PrenticeHall. ISBN 9780137261598.
External links
 David Childs Ltd Consulting Civil Engineers: Tutorials
 American Wood Council: Free Download Library Wood Construction Data
 Introduction to Structural Design, U. Virginia Dept. Architecture
 Glossary
 Course Sampler Lectures, Projects, Tests
 Beams and Bending review points (follow using next buttons)
 Structural Behavior and Design Approaches lectures (follow using next buttons)
 U. Maryland, J.A. Clark School of Engineering: HAMLET engineering simulations and models
 U. Wisconsin–Stout, Strength of Materials online lectures, problems, tests/solutions, links, software
 Beam calculations in MS Excel from ExcelCalcs.com
 Beam Calculation Software for Windows from beams.com
 Types of load on structure
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