Members Subjected to Flexural Loads


In many engineering structures members are required to resist forces that are applied laterally or transversely to their axes. These type of members are termed as beam.

There are various ways to define the beams such as

Definition I: A beam is a laterally loaded member, whose cross-sectional dimensions are small as compared to its length.

Definition II: A beam is nothing simply a bar which is subjected to forces or couples that lie in a plane containing the longitudnal axis of the bar. The forces are understood to act perpendicular to the longitudnal axis of the bar.

Definition III: A bar working under bending is generally termed as a beam.

Materials for Beam:

The beams may be made from several usable engineering materials such commonly among them are as follows:

  • Metal
  • Wood
  • Concrete
  • Plastic

Examples of Beams:

Refer to the figures shown below that illustrates the beam

Fig 1                                                             Fig 2

In the fig.1, an electric pole has been shown which is subject to forces occurring due to wind; hence it is an example of beam.

In the fig.2, the wings of an aeroplane may be regarded as a beam because here the aerodynamic action is responsible to provide lateral loading on the member.

Geometric forms of Beams:

The Area of X-section of the beam may take several forms some of them have been shown below:

Issues Regarding Beam:

Designer would be interested to know the answers to following issues while dealing with beams in practical engineering application

•  At what load will it fail

•  How much deflection occurs under the application of loads.

Classification of Beams:

Beams are classified on the basis of their geometry and the manner in which they are supported.

Classification I: The classification based on the basis of geometry normally includes features such as the shape of the X-section and whether the beam is straight or curved.

Classification II: Beams are classified into several groups, depending primarily on the kind of supports used. But it must be clearly understood why do we need supports. The supports are required to provide constrainment to the movement of the beams or simply the supports resists the movements either in particular direction or in rotational direction or both. As a consequence of this, the reaction comes into picture whereas to resist rotational movements the moment comes into picture. On the basis of the support, the beams may be classified as follows:

Cantilever Beam: A beam which is supported on the fixed support is termed as a cantilever beam: Now let us understand the meaning of a fixed support. Such a support is obtained by building a beam into a brick wall, casting it into concrete or welding the end of the beam. Such a support provides both the translational and rotational constrainment to the beam, therefore the reaction as well as the moments appears, as shown in the figure below

Simply Supported Beam: The beams are said to be simply supported if their supports creates only the translational constraints.

Some times the translational movement may be allowed in one direction with the help of rollers and can be represented like this

Statically Determinate or Statically Indeterminate Beams:

The beams can also be categorized as statically determinate or else it can be referred as statically indeterminate. If all the external forces and moments acting on it can be determined from the equilibrium conditions alone then. It would be referred as a statically determinate beam, whereas in the statically indeterminate beams one has to consider deformation i.e. deflections to solve the problem.

Types of loads acting on beams:

A beam is normally horizontal where as the external loads acting on the beams is generally in the vertical directions. In order to study the behaviors of beams under flexural loads. It becomes pertinent that one must be familiar with the various types of loads acting on the beams as well as their physical manifestations.

A. Concentrated Load: It is a kind of load which is considered to act at a point. By this we mean that the length of beam over which the force acts is so small in comparison to its total length that one can model the force as though applied at a point in two dimensional view of beam. Here in this case, force or load may be made to act on a beam by a hanger or though other means

B. Distributed Load: The distributed load is a kind of load which is made to spread over a entire span of beam or over a particular portion of the beam in some specific manner

In the above figure, the rate of loading q' is a function of x i.e. span of the beam, hence this is a non uniformly distributed load.

The rate of loading q' over the length of the beam may be uniform over the entire span of beam, then we cell this as a uniformly distributed load (U.D.L). The U.D.L may be represented in either of the way on the beams

some times the load acting on the beams may be the uniformly varying as in the case of dams or on inclind wall of a vessel containing liquid, then this may be represented on the beam as below:

The U.D.L can be easily realized by making idealization of the ware house load, where the bags of grains are placed over a beam.

Concentrated Moment:

The beam may be subjected to a concentrated moment essentially at a point. One of the possible arrangement for applying the moment is being shown in the figure below:

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