How to Find Force in a Beam
Beams are essential structural elements used in various fields, including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and architecture. Understanding how to find force in a beam is crucial for analyzing its structural behavior and ensuring its stability. In this blog post, we will explore the concepts and methods involved in calculating the forces present in a beam, including reaction forces, shear forces, and axial forces.
How to Calculate Force in a Beam
Beam Force Equations and Formulas
To calculate the forces in a beam, we need to rely on fundamental equations and formulas. Some of the key equations used include:

EulerBernoulli Beam Theory: This theory provides a mathematical model for the behavior of slender beams under applied loads. It relates the bending moment, shear force, and deflection of the beam to its geometry, material properties, and applied loads.

Bending Moment Equation: The bending moment equation describes the distribution of moments along the length of the beam. It can be derived using the equilibrium equations and the constitutive relationship between internal forces and deformation.

Shear Force Equation: The shear force equation represents the variation in shear forces along the beam. It helps us understand how shear forces are distributed across the beam’s crosssection.
Steps to Calculate Reaction Force on a Beam
To determine the reaction forces on a beam, follow these steps:

Identify the support conditions: Determine whether the beam is simply supported, cantilevered, or part of a more complex support system.

Draw a free body diagram: Isolate the beam and remove all external forces acting on it. Include the reactions at the supports as unknowns.

Apply equilibrium equations: Write down the equations of equilibrium by considering the sum of forces and moments acting on the beam. Solve these equations to find the unknown reaction forces.
How to Determine Internal Forces of a Beam
The internal forces in a beam, such as bending moment, shear force, and axial force, can be determined using the following steps:

Cut the beam: Visualize a section of the beam where you want to calculate the internal forces. Cut the beam at that section.

Draw free body diagrams: Isolate the cut section of the beam and draw free body diagrams showing all external and internal forces acting on it.

Apply equilibrium equations: Use the equilibrium equations to calculate the unknown internal forces, taking into account the effects of external loads and support reactions.
Practical Examples of Finding Force in a Beam
Force Method for Beams Examples
Let’s consider an example where we have a simply supported beam with a concentrated load at the center. We want to determine the reactions at the supports and the internal forces at a specific section.
 Beam length: 6 meters
 Concentrated load: 10 kN at the center of the beam
Using the force method, we can find the reactions at the supports. The reaction force at each support is half of the applied load, i.e., 5 kN.
Next, to calculate the internal forces at a specific section, we need to consider the effects of the applied load. For example, if we want to find the bending moment at a distance of 3 meters from one end, we can apply the equations derived from the EulerBernoulli Beam Theory.
Example of Finding Maximum Shear Force in a Beam
Consider a cantilever beam with a distributed load. The length of the beam is 4 meters, and the distributed load is 2 kN/m. To find the maximum shear force, we can use the following approach:

Divide the beam into segments: Divide the beam into small segments of length Δx.

Calculate the shear force at each segment: Apply the equations of equilibrium to each segment and solve for the shear force. The maximum shear force will occur at the point where the shear force changes sign.
By following these steps, we can determine the maximum shear force in the beam and analyze its effect on the beam’s structural integrity.
Example of Calculating Force in Beam Deflection
Let’s consider a simply supported beam with a uniformly distributed load. The length of the beam is 5 meters, and the distributed load is 4 kN/m. We want to calculate the deflection at a specific point on the beam.
Using the principles of beam deflection, we can determine the deflection at the desired point by considering the applied load, support conditions, and the beam’s properties such as moment of inertia and elasticity. The deflection can be calculated using the equation:
where:
– is the deflection
– is the distributed load
– is the length of the beam
– is the modulus of elasticity
– is the moment of inertia
By plugging in the values, we can calculate the deflection at the desired point on the beam.
Advanced Concepts Related to Force in a Beam
Understanding Shear Force in a Beam
Shear force in a beam refers to the internal force that causes one part of the beam to slide relative to an adjacent part. It is essential to understand shear force distribution to ensure the beam’s stability and design appropriate connections.
How to Determine Normal Force in a Beam
The normal force in a beam refers to the internal force that acts perpendicular to the crosssection of the beam. It plays a crucial role in analyzing the structural behavior of the beam and calculating stresses.
Finding Axial Force in a Beam
Axial force in a beam refers to the internal force that acts along the axis of the beam. It can arise from various loadings, such as compression or tension. Understanding axial force is important for designing columns and other structural elements.
Calculating the forces in a beam is a fundamental aspect of structural analysis and design. By understanding the concepts, equations, and methods outlined in this blog post, you can confidently determine various forces, such as reaction forces, shear forces, and axial forces, in beams. These calculations are crucial for ensuring the structural integrity and stability of beams in various engineering and construction applications.
How can the concept of finding force in a beam be applied to the calculation of wave force?
To understand how the concept of finding force in a beam can be applied to the calculation of wave force, it is important to first have a clear understanding of the fundamental principles involved in calculating wave force. Wave force refers to the force exerted by waves on various structures such as buildings, piers, or offshore platforms. The process of calculating wave force involves determining the pressure exerted by the waves on the structure and then applying this pressure to the appropriate formula. The article How to calculate wave force. provides a detailed explanation of the steps involved in calculating wave force and offers insights into different scenarios where this calculation is applicable.
Numerical Problems on How to find force in a beam
Problem 1:
A beam of length 5 meters is supported at both ends and carries a uniformly distributed load of 10 kN/m. Determine the magnitude and direction of the reaction forces at each support.
Solution:
Given:
Length of the beam, meters
Uniformly distributed load, kN/m
To find the reaction forces, we can use the following formulas:
 The sum of all vertical forces equals zero:
 The sum of all moments about any point equals zero:
Let’s consider the left support as the reference point.
Vertical forces:
Considering the left support as the reference point, the vertical forces acting on the beam are the reaction force at the left support and the reaction force at the right support. Since the beam is in equilibrium, the sum of all vertical forces equals zero:
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Moment about the left support:
The only moment acting on the beam is the moment due to the distributed load. Since the beam is in equilibrium, the sum of all moments about the left support equals zero:
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Solving these equations simultaneously, we can find the values of and .
Problem 2:
A simply supported beam of length 6 meters carries a point load of 20 kN at a distance of 3 meters from the left support. Determine the magnitude and direction of the reaction forces at each support.
Solution:
Given:
Length of the beam, meters
Point load, kN
Distance of the point load from the left support, meters
To find the reaction forces, we can use the same formulas mentioned in problem 1.
Vertical forces:
Considering the left support as the reference point, the vertical forces acting on the beam are the reaction force at the left support and the reaction force at the right support. Since the beam is in equilibrium, the sum of all vertical forces equals zero:
Moment about the left support:
The moments acting on the beam are the moment due to the point load and the moment due to the reaction force at the right support. Since the beam is in equilibrium, the sum of all moments about the left support equals zero:
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Solving these equations simultaneously, we can find the values of and .
Problem 3:
A cantilever beam of length 4 meters is fixed at one end and carries a uniformly varying load. The load intensity at the free end is 15 kN/m and decreases linearly to zero at the fixed end. Determine the magnitude and direction of the reaction force at the fixed end.
Solution:
Given:
Length of the cantilever beam, meters
Load intensity at the free end, kN/m
To find the reaction force, we can use the same formulas mentioned in problem 1.
Vertical forces:
Considering the fixed end as the reference point, the vertical forces acting on the beam are the reaction force at the fixed end. Since the beam is in equilibrium, the sum of all vertical forces equals zero:
where is the load intensity at a distance from the fixed end.
Using the given information that the load intensity decreases linearly from 15 kN/m at the free end to zero at the fixed end, we can express the load intensity as:
Substituting this expression into the equation, we can solve for the value of .
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