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A Beam Element Using Touratier Theory
Yucheng Liu
a
a
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA, USA
Version of record first published: 23 Apr 2010.
To cite this article: Yucheng Liu (2010): A Beam Element Using Touratier Theory, International Journal for Computational
Methods in Engineering Science and Mechanics, 11:3, 142-145
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International Journal for Computational Methods in Engineering Science and Mechanics, 11:142–145, 2010
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ISSN: 1550–2287 print / 1550–2295 online
DOI: 10.1080/15502281003702294
A Beam Element Using Touratier Theory
Yucheng Liu
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA, USA
This article presents an isotropic beam element based on a si-
nusoidal shear deformation theory. The element shape functions
are found directly from the solutions of the governing differential
equations that describe the deformations of the cross-section based
on the high order theory. The presented beam element is used for
stiffness analysis and the results are compared with the solutions
obtainedfromclassical beamtheory, elasticity theory, and Petrolito
beam theory.
Keywords Beam, Touratier theory, Shear deformation theory, Stiff-
ness analysis, Analytical solution
1. INTRODUCTION
Classical beam theory was based on the Bernoulli-Euler law,
which assumes that plain sections of the cross-section remain
plain and perpendicular to the beam axis and neglects shear
deformation. This theory correctly calculates the load-carrying
and deflection characteristics of thin beams. However, for thick
beams in which shear deformation is important, the Bernoulli-
Euler theory yields some errors in describing such beam’s be-
haviors. This defect was overcome by Timoshenko’s beam the-
ory, which takes into account shear deformation and rotational
inertia effects [1]. In Timoshenko beam theory, the resulting
stress field no longer satisfies the usual shear-free boundary
condition on the top and bottom surfaces of the beam. There-
fore, in this theory, it is necessary to include a Timoshenko
shear coefficient into the integrated shear constitutive equation.
This problem was solved by Levinson [2], who developed a
high order shear deformation theory based on a cubic in-plane
displacement approximation that relaxes the restriction on the
warping of the cross-section. In Levinson’s theory, the equilib-
rium equations of the classical plate theory was used for the
derivation, which is variational inconsistent with the kinemat-
Received 15 April 2009; accepted 13 October 2009.
Address correspondence to Yucheng Liu, Department of Mechani-
cal Engineering, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, LA 70504, USA.
E-mail: Yucheng.Liu@louisiana.edu
ics of displacements. By using the cubic displacement field of
Levinson, Bickford [3], Heyliger and Reddy [4] developed vari-
ationally consistent high order beam theories, separately.
Different beamelements have been developed based on these
beam theories and even plate theories. Heyliger and Reddy [4]
presented a high order beam element for the static and dynamic
behavior of rectangular beams by using the variationally con-
sistent higher order plate theory of Reddy [5, 6]. Petrolito [7]
used Bickford beamtheory to performexact stiffness analysis of
thick beams. He derived solutions of the governing differential
equations as well as the beam element’s shape functions. The
accuracy of Petrolito’s beamelement was verified by comparing
with elasticity theory and classical beam theory. Eisenberger [8]
continued to derive the exact stiffness matrix for the high order
beam element and present an exact beam element. Examples
showed that with such exact beam element, the exact results
could be obtained independent of the number of elements.
Besides the aforementioned high order shear deformation
theories, Touratier [9] developed a new plate theory that ac-
counts for cosine shear stress distribution and free boundary
conditions for shear stress on the top and bottom surfaces of
the plate. This theory also rectifies the defect of Timoshenko’s
theory and was proved to be more efficient than other refined
plate theories, in which the shear deformation is represented by
a sinusoidal function. Even Touratier theory is a plate theory, it
can also be employed to define beam element. In this paper, a
new beam element is presented based on Touratier theory. An
illustrative example shows that the presented beam element is
efficient for stiffness analysis and accurately describes the de-
flection behaviors of thick beams. By using Touratier theory, the
beam element can be developed without using shear correction
factors and independent of material behavior in the kinematics.
2. GOVERNING EQUATIONS
A typical beam element is shown in Fig. 1. Assuming that
there are no loads applied along the Xdirection, the deformation
of the beam is described by the displacements along X and
Z directions, u and w, and the rotation about Y direction, θ.
According to Touratier’s theory, the displacement field of the
142
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A BEAM ELEMENT USING TOURATIER THEORY 143
FIG. 1. Typical beam element.
present beam element takes the form
w = w(x)
θ = θ(x)
u = u(x, z) =
h
π
sin
_
πz
h
_
_
θ +
∂w
∂x
_
−z
∂w
∂x
(1)
The strain components are
ε
x
=
∂u
∂x
=
h
π
sin
_
πz
h
_
_
∂θ
∂x
+

2
w
∂x
2
_
−z

2
w
∂x
2
γ
xz
=
∂u
∂z
+
∂w
∂x
= cos
_
πz
h
_
_
θ +
∂w
∂x
_ (2)
The stress-strain relationships are
σ
x
= Eε
x
and τxz = Gγ
xz
(3)
where E is Young’s modulus, G=E/2(1 +υ) is the shear modu-
lus, and υ is Poisson’s ratio. Here this beam element is assumed
as isotropic.
The equilibriumequations for the beamelement are obtained
using Hamilton’s principle [4] based on Eqs. (1) to (3), which
can be expressed as
_
h/2
−h/2
_
b
0
_
L
0

x
δε
x

xz
δγ
xz
)dxdydz −
_
L
0
qδwdx = 0
(4)
where b is the width of the beam and q is the distributed trans-
verse load acting on the beam.
Substituting Eqs. (1) to (3) into Eq. (4), we can have the
equilibrium equations for the beam as
__
2h
3
π
3

h
3

2
_
Ebθ


_
h
3

2

4h
3
π
3
+
h
3
12
_
Ebw

_

+
_
0.5Gbh
_
θ +w

__

+q = 0
__
2h
3
π
3

h
3

2
_
Ebw


h
3

2
Ebθ

_

+0.5Gbh
_
θ +w

_
= 0 (5)
Taking the beam’s cross-sectional area A = bh and the second
moment of the cross-sectional area I = bh
3
/12, Eq. (5) can be
simplified as
_
0.166EIθ

−0.06EIw

_

+
_
0.5GA
_
θ +w

__

+q = 0
_
0.166EIw

−0.648EIθ

_

+0.5GA
_
θ +w

_
= 0 (6)
where EI is the beam’s bending rigidity, GA is the beam’s shear
rigidity, and the prime denotes d/dx.
FromEq. (6), the generalized forces appropriate for this beam
element can be defined as
F
1
= 0.166EIθ

−0.06EIw

+0.5GA
_
θ +w

_
F
2
= 0.06EIw

−0.166EIθ

F
3
= 0.648EIθ

−0.166EIw

(7)
where F
1
is a generalized shear force, while F
2
and F
3
are
generalized moments.
According to Petrolito [7], in order to fully determine the
boundary conditions for the beam, either quantity in the follow-
ing three pairs needs to be specified
w or F
1
;
w’ or F
2
;
θor F
3
.
So far, the beam theory has been entirely presented, which
includes a sinusoidal displacement field from Touratier’ theory
(Eq. (1)), two equilibrium equations (Eq. (6)), and three pairs
of associated boundary conditions at each end of the beam. In
the following sections, the equilibrium equations (Eq. (6)) are
solved to determine the lateral deflection of the beam, w, and
the rotation of a normal to the axis of the beam, θ in a linear
bending problem.
3. GENERAL SOLUTIONS OF EQ. (6)
The coupled differential equations (Eq. (6)) can be solved
and the solutions include two parts: homogeneous solutions and
particular solutions. For the homogeneous solutions, assuming
there is no applied transverse load, q =0, Eq. (6) can be decou-
pled as
w
(6)
−λ
2
w
(5)
= 0 and θ
(5)
−λ
2
θ
(3)
= 0 (8)
with
λ
2
=
46GA
EI
=
276
h
2
(1 +ν)
(9)
Such a problem (Eq. (8)) has been solved by Petrolito [7] and
Eisenberger [8] and the solution is
w = C
1
+C
2
x +C
3
x
2
+C
4
x
3
+C
5
sinh(λx) +C
6
cosh(λx)
θ =
−9.768EIC
4
GA
−C
2
−2C
3
x −3C
4
x
2
+0.226λC
6
sinh(λx) +0.226λC
5
cosh(λx) (10)
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144 Y. LIU
FIG. 2. Presented beam element.
Particular solutions need to be derived according to the applied
loads or moments. If the applied load q(x) is linearly distributed
along the beam length L with the maximum magnitude Q
q(x) =
x
L
Q
1
(11)
The particular solution of Eq. (6) is obtained as
w
1
(x) =
0.008x
5
EIL
Q
1
θ
1
(x) = −
_
0.04x
4
EIL
+
0.78x
2
GAL
+
2.03EI
(GA)
2
L
_
Q
1
(12)
or if the applied load is given by
q(x) =
x
L
Q
1
+
_
1 −
x
L
_
Q
2
(13)
the particular solution is
w
2
(x) = w
1
(x) +
Q
2
Q
1
w
1
(L −x)
θ
2
(x) = θ
1
(x) −
Q
2
Q
1
θ
1
(L −x) (14)
Obviously, if the applied load is constant, q(x) = Q, the partic-
ular solution can be obtained from Eq. (14) by assuming Q
1
=
Q
2
= Q.
4. ELEMENT FORMULATION
Based on the above demonstration, a typical beam element,
e, can be presented. Fig. 2 plots this beam element and the ele-
ment has two nodes, each with three degrees of freedom w, w’,
and θ.
The beam element formulation, which is similar to that de-
veloped by Petrolito [7], is represented as
w
e
(x) = A
e
1
(x)(B
−1
)
e
_
d
e
−d
e
0
_
= N
e
1
(x)d
e
+w
e
f
(x)
θ
e
(x) = A
e
2
(x)(B
−1
)
e
_
d
e
−d
e
0
_
= N
e
2
(x)d
e

e
f
(x) (15)
where the shape function matrices N
1
(x) and N
2
(x) are
N
1
(x) = A
1
(x)B
−1
, N
2
(x) = A
2
(x)B
−1
(16)
and w
f
(x) and θ
f
(x) are fixed end solutions according to the
applied loading on the element
w
f
(x) = −A
1
(x)B
−1
d
0
, θ
f
(x) = −A
2
(x)B
−1
d
0
(17)
Notations in Eq. (15) to (17) are defined as
A
1
(x) = [1, x, x
2
, x
3
, sinh(λx), cosh(λx)]
A
2
(x) = [0, −1, −2x, −
_
9.768EI
GA
+3x
2
_
,
0.226λ cosh(λx), 0.226λ sinh(λx)] (18)
B = [A
1
(0), A

1
(0), A
2
(0), A
1
(L), A

1
(L), A
2
(L)]
d
0
= [w
0
(0), w

0
(0), θ
0
(0), w
0
(L), w

0
(L), θ
0
(L)]
d
e
= [w
e
(0), w
e
(0), θ
e
(0), w
e
(L
e
), w
e
(L
e
), θ
e
(L
e
)]
where L
e
is the length of the beamelement, d
0
and d
e
are degrees
of freedom of the beam element.
From Eq. (7) and Eq. (15), the generalized forces for the
element are
F
e
1
(x) = S
e
1
(x)d
e
+S
e
f 1
(x)
F
e
2
(x) = S
e
2
(x)d
e
+S
e
f 2
(x)
F
e
3
(x) = S
e
3
(x)d
e
+S
e
f 3
(x)
(19)
where S
1
(x), S
2
(x), and S
3
(x) are generalized force matrices
S
1
(x) = 0.166EIN

2
(x) −0.06EIN

1
(x)
+0.5GA
_
N
2
(x) +N

1
(x)
_
S
2
(x) = 0.06EIN

1
(x) −0.166EIN

2
(x)
S
3
(x) = 0.648EIN

2
(x) −0.166EIN

1
(x)
(20)
while S
f 1
(x), S
f 2
(x), and S
f 3
(x) are generalized fixed end forces
S
f 1
(x) = 0.166EIθ

f
(x) −0.06EIw

f
(x)
+0.5GA
_
θ(x) +w

f
(x)
_
S
f 2
(x) = 0.06EIw

f
(x) −0.166EIθ

f
(x)
S
f 3
(x) = 0.648EIθ

f
(x) −0.166EIw

f
(x)
(21)
Also, from Petrolito’s theorem, the stiffness equations for a
beam that is composed of E beam elements are given by
E

e=1
_
K
e
d
e
−R
e
_
= 0 (22)
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A BEAM ELEMENT USING TOURATIER THEORY 145
FIG. 3. Simply supported beam subjected to a uniform load.
TABLE 1
Normalized central displacement, w, normalized maximum
stress, σ
x
for example
Displacement Stress
L/h Present Elasticity Petrolito Present Elasticity Petrolito
1 3.412 3.399 3.434 1.309 1.271 1.347
2 1.621 1.622 1.620 1.079 1.067 1.087
3 1.276 1.278 1.277 1.036 1.030 1.039
4 1.156 1.157 1.156 1.012 1.017 1.022
5 1.100 1.100 1.100 1.009 1.011 1.014
10 1.025 1.025 1.025 1.003 1.003 1.003
25 1.004 1.004 1.004 1.001 1.000 1.001
50 1.001 1.001 1.001 1.000 1.000 1.000
100 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000 1.000
where K
e
denotes the element stiffness matrix, which is sym-
metric, and R
e
is the element load vector
R =
_
L
0
pN
T
1
dx (23)
5. ILLUSTRATIVE EXAMPLE
A beam problem is solved in this section using the present
beam element. The results are compared with the solutions ob-
tained using Petrolito’s beam theory [7], elasticity theory [10],
and classical beam theory (the Timoshenko beam). In this ex-
ample, the aspect ratio of the beam L/h varies from 1 to 100 and
Poisson’s ratio υ is set as 0.3.
Example: simply supported beam subjected to a uniform load
In this example, a simply supported beam with length L and
depth h (Fig. 1) is subjected to a uniform load q =Q
1
/L (Fig. 3).
This beam is analyzed using the present element and, because
of its symmetry, the beam is meshed with two elements where
each element represents a half beam.
The central displacement w and maximum stress σ
x
for the
simply supported beams with different L/h are calculated using
the present beamtheory. The results are normalized with respect
to the results obtained from the classical beam theory and are
compared to the normalized elasticity solution and Petrolito’s
solution (as listed in Table 1, the normalized elasticity solution
and Petrolito’s results were presented in [7]).
The results listed in Table 1 indicate that the present beamfor-
mulation agrees very well to the elasticity theory and Petrolito’s
beam model. Evident errors are observed compare to the classi-
cal solution when L/h <5, in which cases the models can not be
considered as beams. As the ratio L/h increases, all the results
tend toward the classical solution. The accuracy of the present
beam formulation is therefore verified.
6. CONCLUSIONS
In this paper, a new beam formulation based on Touratier’s
sinusoidal beam theory is presented. The governing differential
equations for such beam are derived and solved. The present
beam formulation can be used to correctly solve regular beam
problems and by using this formulation only the minimumnum-
ber of elements are required to mesh the beam, enabling the
problem to be solved rapidly. Developed based on Touratier’s
beam theory, such beam formulation does not require a shear
correction factor and is very suitable for modeling composite
beams.
REFERENCES
1. S. P. Timoshenko, On the Correction for Shear of the Differential Equation
for Transverse Vibrations of Prismatic Bars, Philosophical Magazine vol.
41, pp. 744–746, 1921.
2. M. Levinson, A New Rectangular Beam Theory, Journal of Sound and
Vibration, vol. 74(1), pp. 81–87, 1981.
3. W. B. Bickford, A Consistent Higher Order Beam Theory, Develop-
ments in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics vol. 11, pp. 137–150,
1982.
4. P. R. Heyliger and J. N. Reddy, A Higher Order Beam Finite Element
for Bending and Vibration Problems, Journal of Sound and Vibration, vol.
126(2), pp. 309–326, 1988.
5. J. N. Reddy, A Simple Higher-order Theory for Laminated Compos-
ite Plates, ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, vol. 54, pp. 745–752,
1984.
6. J. N. Reddy, A Refined Nonlinear Theory of Plates with Transverse Shear
Deformation, International Journal of Solids and Structures, vol. 20, pp.
881–896, 1984.
7. J. Petrolito, Stiffness Analysis of Beams Using a Higher-order Theory,
Computers & Structures, vol. 55(1), pp. 33–39, 1995.
8. M. Eisenberger, An Exact High Order Beam element, Computers & Struc-
tures, vol. 81, pp. 147–152, 2003.
9. M. Touratier, An Efficient Standard Plate Theory, International Journal of
Engineering Science, vol. 29(8), pp. 901–916, 1991.
10. J. Petrolito, AModified ACMElement for Thick Plate Analysis, Computers
& Structures, vol. 31, pp. 553–565, 1989.
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