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Timoshenko beam theory

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The Timoshenko beam theory was developed by Ukrainian-born scientist and engineer Stephen Timoshenko early in the 20th century.[1][2] The model takes into account shear deformation and rotational inertia effects, making it suitable for describing the behaviour of short beams, sandwich composite beams or beams subject to high-frequency excitation when the wavelength approaches the thickness of the beam. The resulting equation is of 4th order, but unlike ordinary beam theory - i.e. EulerBernoulli beam theory - there is also a second order spatial derivative present. Physically, taking into account the added mechanisms of deformation effectively lowers the stiffness of the beam, while the result is a larger deflection under a static load and lower predicted eigenfrequencies for a given set of boundary conditions. The latter effect is more noticeable for higher frequencies as the wavelength becomes shorter, and thus the distance between opposing shear forces decreases.

Deformation of a Timoshenko beam (blue) compared with that of an Euler-Bernoulli beam (red).

If the shear modulus of the beam material approaches infinity - and thus the beam becomes rigid in shear - and if rotational inertia effects are neglected, Timoshenko beam theory converges towards ordinary beam theory.


1 Quasistatic Timoshenko beam o 1.1 Boundary conditions

o 1.2 Example: Cantilever beam 2 Dynamic Timoshenko beam o 2.1 Axial effects o 2.2 Damping 3 Shear coefficient 4 See also 5 References

Quasistatic Timoshenko beam[edit]

Deformation of a Timoshenko beam. The normal rotates by an amount to .

which is not equal

In static Timoshenko beam theory without axial effects, the displacements of the beam are assumed to be given by

where are the coordinates of a point in the beam, are the components of the displacement vector in the three coordinate directions, is the angle of rotation of the normal to the mid-surface of the beam, and is the displacement of the mid-surface in the -direction. The governing equations are the following uncoupled system of ordinary differential equations:

The Timoshenko beam theory for the static case is equivalent to the Euler-Bernoulli theory when the last term above is neglected, an approximation that is valid when


is the length of the beam.

Combining the two equations gives, for a homogeneous beam of constant cross-section,

The bending moment and the shear force in the beam are related to the displacement and the rotation . These relations, for a linear elastic Timoshenko beam, are:

[show]Derivation of quasistatic Timoshenko beam equations

Boundary conditions[edit]
The two equations that describe the deformation of a Timoshenko beam have to be augmented with boundary conditions if they are to be solved. Four boundary conditions are needed for the problem to be well-posed. Typical boundary conditions are:

Simply supported beams: The displacement is zero at the locations of the two supports. The bending moment applied to the beam also has to be specified. The rotation and the transverse shear force are not specified. Clamped beams: The displacement and the rotation are specified to be zero at the clamped end. If one end is free, shear force and bending moment have to be specified at that end.

Example: Cantilever beam[edit]

A cantilever Timoshenko beam under a point load at the free end.

For a cantilever beam, one boundary is clamped while the other is free. Let us use a right handed coordinate system where the direction is positive towards right and the direction is positive upward. Following normal convention, we assume that positive forces act in the positive directions of the and axes and positive moments act in the clockwise direction. We also assume that the sign convention of the stress resultants ( and ) is such that positive bending moments compress the material at the bottom of the beam (lower coordinates) and positive shear forces rotate the beam in a counterclockwise direction. Let us assume that the clamped end is at and the free end is at . If a point load is applied to the free end in the positive direction, a free body diagram of the beam gives us


Therefore, from the expressions for the bending moment and shear force, we have

Integration of the first equation, and application of the boundary condition leads to


The second equation can then be written as

Integration and application of the boundary condition



The axial stress is given by

Dynamic Timoshenko beam[edit]

In Timoshenko beam theory without axial effects, the displacements of the beam are assumed to be given by

where are the coordinates of a point in the beam, are the components of the displacement vector in the three coordinate directions, is the angle of rotation of the normal to the mid-surface of the beam, and is the displacement of the mid-surface in the -direction. Starting from the above assumption, the Timoshenko beam theory, allowing for vibrations, may be described with the coupled linear partial differential equations:[3]

where the dependent variables are

, the translational displacement of the beam, and

, the angular displacement. Note that unlike the Euler-Bernoulli theory, the angular deflection is another variable and not approximated by the slope of the deflection. Also,

is the density of the beam material (but not the linear density). is the cross section area. is the elastic modulus. is the shear modulus. is the second moment of area. , called the Timoshenko shear coefficient, depends on the geometry. Normally, a rectangular section. is a distributed load (force per length). for

These parameters are not necessarily constants. For a linear elastic, isotropic, homogeneous beam of constant cross-section these two equations can be combined to give[4][5]

[show]Derivation of combined Timoshenko beam equation

Axial effects[edit]
If the displacements of the beam are given by

where is an additional displacement in the Timoshenko beam take the form

-direction, then the governing equations of a

where and is an externally applied axial force. Any external axial force is balanced by the stress resultant


is the axial stress and the thickness of the beam has been assumed to be

The combined beam equation with axial force effects included is

If, in addition to axial forces, we assume a damping force that is proportional to the velocity with the form

the coupled governing equations for a Timoshenko beam take the form

and the combined equation becomes

A caveat to this Ansatz damping force (resembling viscosity) is that, whereas viscosity leads to a frequency-dependent and amplitude-independent damping rate of beam oscillations, the empirically measured damping rates are frequency-insensitive, but depend on the amplitude of beam deflection.

Shear coefficient[edit]
Determining the shear coefficient is not straightforward (nor are the determined values widely accepted, i.e. there's more than one answer); generally it must satisfy:

The shear coefficient depends on the Poisson's ratio. The attempts to provide precise expressions were made by many scientists, including Stephen Timoshenko, Raymond D. Mindlin, G. R. Cowper, John W. Hutchinson, etc. In engineering practice, the expressions by Stephen Timoshenko[6] are sufficient in most cases. For solid rectangular cross-section,

For solid circular cross-section,