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Mathematics_Beam_Deflection.pdf
The Mathematics of Beam Deflection
Scenario
As a structural engineer you are part of a team working on the design of a prestigious new hotel complex in
a developing city in the Middle East. It has been decided that the building will be constructed using structural
steelwork and, as the design engineer, you will carry out the complex calculations that will ensure that the
architect’s vision for this new development can be translated into a functional, economic and buildable
structure.
As part of these calculations you must assess the maximum deflections that will occur in the beams of the
structure and ensure that they are not excessive. In this exercise you will apply numerical integration
techniques to solve some typical beam deflection design problems using techniques that form the basis of
the calculations that would be undertaken in real life albeit often carried out using sophisticated and powerful
computer analysis software.
Importance of Exemplar in Real Life
Structures such as buildings and bridges consist of a number of components such as beams, columns and
foundations all of which act together to ensure that the loadings that the structure carries is safely
transmitted to the supporting ground below.
Normally, the horizontal beams can be made from steel, timber or reinforced concrete and have a cross
sectional shape that can be rectangular, T or I shape. The design of such beams can be complex but is
essentially intended to ensure that the beam can safely carry the load it is intended to support. This will
include its own self-weight, the weight of the structure it is supporting and what is often referred to as “live
load” being the weight of people and furnishings in buildings or the weight of road or rail traffic in bridges.
Examples of beams can be seen in figures 1 to 4
Figure 1: Steel Beams
Figure 2: Bridge Beams
Figure 3: Reinforced Concrete Beams
Figure 4: Cantilevered Timber Beams
-1-
In addition to the requirements for the beam to safely carry the intended design loads there are other factors
that have to be considered including assessing the likely deflection of the beam under load. If beams deflect
excessively then this can cause visual distress to the users of the building and can lead to damage of parts
of the building including brittle partition dividers between rooms and services such as water and heating
pipes and ductwork.
Beam design is carried out according to principles set out in Codes of Practice and typically the maximum
deflection is limited to the beam’s span length divided by 250. Hence a 5m span beam can deflect as much
as 20mm without adverse effect. Thus, in many situations it is necessary to calculate, using numerical
methods, the actual beam deflection under the anticipated design load and compare this figure with the
allowable value to see if the chosen beam section is adequate.
Background Theory
To calculate beam deflections a standard fundamental formula is used to determine deflections base on
beam curvature. This is given by the expression:
Curvature =
1 M
d 2v
=
=− 2
R EI
dx
…(1)
where:
R=
The radius of the shape of the curved beam at a distance x from the origin, normally taken at the left
or right hand end of the beam
E=
The Elastic or Young’s modulus of the material from which the beam is fabricated. For steel this can
be assumed to be 210 kN/mm2.
I=
The Second Moment of Area of the beam’s cross-section. This value depends on the shape of the
cross section and is normally obtained from tables. Its units are m4 or mm4 or cm4.
See http://www.rainhamsteel.co.uk/products/universal_beams2nonsfb.html for typical section sizes
in structural steelwork
M=
The Bending Moment at the section, distance x from the origin
v=
The vertical deflection at the section distance x from the origin.
In the above formula E and I are normally constant values whilst v, x and M are variables. M can be
expressed in terms of distance x and hence integrating the above expression twice will enable the deflection
v to be calculated.
In other words:
d 2v
M
=−
EI
dx 2
dv
M
=−
dx
dx
EI
dv
v=
dx
dx
∫
… (2)
∫
The Bending Moment is a means of describing mathematically the amount of bending and deflection that will
occur in a beam under a given loading system and is defined as the sum of the moments of all forces to the
left or right of the section under consideration. It doesn’t matter whether moments are taken to the left or
right as the answer will be the same in both cases. For example in figure 5 below the simply supported
beam shown carries a uniformly distributed load of 10 KN/m. (note the units). When a load is described as
uniformly distributed it means that the load intensity is the same throughout. The total load on the span will
be 5x10 = 50 kN and hence the supporting reactions as marked on the diagram will each be 25 kN.
X
x
beam
A
Load = 10 kN/m: Total Load = 50 kN
B
column
5m
Reaction = 25kN
Reaction = 25kN
X
Figure5: Loads and Reactions on a simply supported beam
-2-
At X, a distance x from the left hand support the Bending Moment, M, can be calculated by taking moments
of all forces to the left of X with the convention that clockwise moments are taken as positive. Hence, the
bending moment at X will be given as:
M = the clockwise moment of the 25kN support reaction – the anticlockwise moment of the uniformly distributed load.
x
M = (25 × x ) − (10 × x × ) = 25 x − 5 x 2
2
i.e.
… (3)
Hence combining all the above expressions we can say that:
d 2v
dx
∴
and
2
= −
M
25 x − 5 x 2
= −
EI
EI
dv
1
=−
dx
EI
v=−
1
EI
∫
(25 x − 5 x 2 )dx = −
⎤
1 ⎡ 25 2
x3
+ A⎥
⎢ x −5
EI ⎣⎢ 2
3
⎦⎥
⎡ 25 3
⎤
x4
x
−
5
+ Ax + B ⎥
⎢
12
⎣⎢ 6
⎦⎥
… (4)
… (5)
The EI term is taken outside of the integration as both E and I are constant values. The terms A and B are
constants of integration. To solve for the deflection v is necessary to solve for A and B by applying
appropriate boundary conditions which are (a) when x=0 then v= 0 and (b) when x= 5m then v= 0. In other
words because the left and right hand ends are both supports then they can not deflect downwards.
A further boundary condition can be deduced in that at mid-span, by symmetry of the beam and loading, the
rotation (or slope of the curve) which is the term dv/dx must be zero. i.e when x=L/2 = 2.5m then dv/dx=0.
The substitution of any two of these three boundary conditions will give B=0 and A = 52.08.
Hence:
v=−
1
EI
⎡ 25 3
⎤
x4
1
+ Ax + B ⎥ = −
⎢ x −5
EI
12
⎢⎣ 6
⎥⎦
⎡ 25 3
⎤
x4
+ 52.08⎥ … (6)
⎢ x −5
12
⎢⎣ 6
⎥⎦
The above expression can now be used to calculate the deflection at any point on the beam. In practice it is
the maximum deflection that is of interest and common sense would say that for this example this occurs at
mid-span and can be calculated by substituting x=L/2=2.5m into equation (6) above.
If it is not obvious where the maximum deflection occurs it can always be determined by knowing that it will
occur where there is a change in slope of the beam i.e. where dv/dx=0 . Hence equation (6), or its
equivalent in a similar but different problem, could be differentiated and equated to zero find the distance
xmax where the rotation dv/dx is zero. Substituting this value for xmax into equation (6) (or its equivalent) will
give the maximum deflection, vmax.
ooOoo
-3-
Questions
Example Data: For the steel beams given in figures 6 to 9 check for the following data
X
X
x
x
Load = 15 kN/m: Total Load = 150kN
beam
Load = 9.8 kN/m: Total Load = 34.3 kN
beam
A
B
3.5m
B
X
Figure 6: Simply Supported Beam
Figure 7: Cantilevered Beam
X
Beam built in to
a wall providing
rigid support at one
end only
X
x
15 kN/m
x
Total Load = 75kN
Total Load = 35kN
beam
beam
A
mn
A
B
3.5m
B
10m
X
X
Figure 8: Simply Supported Beam - Tapered Load
Figure
6
7
8
9
20 kN/m
10m
A
X
Beam built in to
a wall providing
rigid support at one
end only
E
(kN/mm2 )
210
210
210
210
I
(cm4)
45,730
33,300
45,730
37,050
L
(m)
10.0
3.5
10.0
3.5
Figure 9: Cantilevered Beam - Tapered Load
Load
(kN/m)
15.0
9.8
Zero to 15 (see figure 8)
Zero to 20 (see figure 9)
Calculate deflections at:
Mid span of beam
End of cantilever
Mid span of beam
End of cantilever
Note that two of the problems are based on cantilever beams where the beam is held rigidly at one end and
is unsupported at the other end. The boundary conditions in this case are that at the built-in end both
rotation and deflection will be zero. In all cases, when calculating the equation of Bending Moment, M, take
moments of all forces to the left of the section X-X as shown in the figures.
Where to find more
1.
2.
Ray Hulse & Jack Cain, Structural Mechanics, 2nd edn, Palgrave, 2000. (ISBN 0-333-80457-0)
John Bird, Engineering Mathematics, 5th edn, John Bird, 2007 (ISBN 978-07506-8555-9)
ooOoo
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The Mathematics of Beam Deflection
INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS
Teachers will need to understand and explain the theory outlined above and have knowledge of:
‰
Some terminology relating to structural design and construction
‰
Integration techniques
‰
Geometry of the triangle including area and centroid position
Topics covered from Mathematics for Engineers
ƒ Topic 1: Mathematical Models in Engineering
ƒ Topic 2: Models of Growth and Decay
ƒ Topic 6: Differentiation and Integration
Learning Outcomes
ƒ LO 01: Understand the idea of mathematical modelling
ƒ LO 02: Be familiar with a range of models of change, and growth and decay
ƒ LO 06: Know how to use differentiation and integration in the context of engineering analysis and
problem solving
ƒ LO 09: Construct rigorous mathematical arguments and proofs in engineering context
ƒ LO 10: Comprehend translations of common realistic engineering contexts into mathematics
Assessment Criteria
ƒ AC 1.1: State assumptions made in establishing a specific mathematical model
ƒ AC 1.2: Describe and use the modelling cycle
ƒ AC 2.3: Set up and solve a differential equation to model a physical situation
ƒ AC 6.3: Find definite and indefinite integrals of functions
ƒ AC 8.3: Use methods of probability to help solve engineering problems
ƒ AC 9.1: Use precise statements, logical deduction and inference
ƒ AC 9.2: Manipulate mathematical expressions
ƒ AC 9.3: Construct extended arguments to handle substantial problems
ƒ AC 10.1: Read critically and comprehend longer mathematical arguments or examples of applications
Links to other units of the Advanced Diploma in Construction & The Built Environment
Unit 3
Unit 29
Unit 30
Unit 31
Civil Engineering Construction
Science and materials in construction and the Built Environment
Structural Mechanics
Design
Solution to the Questions
Figure
6
7
8
9
Answer
Deflection (mm)
20.34
2.63
10.16
1.29
ooOoo
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