Structural element capable of withstanding loads by resisting bending / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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A beam is a structural element that primarily resists loads applied laterally to the beam's axis (an element designed to carry primarily axial load would be a strut or column). Its mode of deflection is primarily by bending. The loads applied to the beam result in reaction forces at the beam's support points. The total effect of all the forces acting on the beam is to produce shear forces and bending moments within the beams, that in turn induce internal stresses, strains and deflections of the beam. Beams are characterized by their manner of support, profile (shape of cross-section), equilibrium conditions, length, and their material.
Beams are traditionally descriptions of building or civil engineering structural elements, where the beams are horizontal and carry vertical loads. However, any structure may contain beams, for instance automobile frames, aircraft components, machine frames, and other mechanical or structural systems. In these structures, any structural element, in any orientation, that primarily resists loads applied laterally to the element's axis would be a beam element.