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Beam elements can resist bending, shear, and torsional loads. The typical frame shown below is modeled with beams elements to transfer the load to the supports. Modeling such frames with truss elements fails since there is no mechanism to transfer the applied horizontal load to the supports.

Beam elements require defining the exact cross section so that the program can calculate the moments of inertia, neutral axes and the distances from the extreme fibers to the neutral axes. The stresses vary within the plane of the cross-section and along the beam.

Consider a 3D beam with cross-sectional area (A) and the associated mesh. Beam elements are displayed as hollow cylinders regardless of their actual cross-section shape.

3D geometry

Mesh (each hollow cylinder is an element)


Now, the figure below shows a small segment along a beam element subjected to simplified 2D forces ( axial force P, shearing force V, and bending moment M):

 In a general case 3 forces and 3 moments act on the segment.

Uniform axial stress = P/A (similar to truss elements)

Uniform shearing stress = V/A

The bending moment M causes a bending stress that varies linearly with the vertical distance y from the neutral axis.

Bending stress (bending in y direction)  = My/I

where I is the moment of inertia about the neutral axis.

The bending stress is the largest at the extreme fibers. In this example, the largest compression occurs at the top fiber and the largest tension occurs at the extreme bottom fibers.


A joint is identified at free ends of structural members and at the intersection of two or more structural members. The Edit Joint PropertyManager provides a tool to help you define joints properly. The program creates a node at the center of the cross section of each joint member. Due to trimming and the use of different cross sections for different members, the nodes of members associated with a joint may not coincide. The program creates special elements near the joint to simulate a rigid connection based on geometric and material properties.

Material Properties

The modulus of elasticity and Poisson's Ratio are always required.

Density is required only if gravitational loads are considered.


You can apply restraints to joints only. There are 6 degrees of freedom at each joint. You can apply zero or non-zero prescribed translations and rotations.


In a study with beams, solids and shell surfaces, you can bond beams and beam joints to solid and shell faces.

Bonding between touching structural members with a surface or sheet metal face is automatically created.

Beam Stiffeners for Curved Surfaces

You can bond beams (straight or curved) that act as stiffeners to curved surfaces of shells or sheet metal bodies.

The software automatically bonds beams to curved surfaces that have touching geometries or are situated within reasonable clearance. The program uses beam element sizes compatible with the surface mesh sizes. The feature is available for static, frequency, and buckling studies.


You can apply:

  • Concentrated forces and moments at joints and reference points.

  • Distributed loads along the whole length of a beam.

  • Gravitational loads. The program calculates gravitational forces based on the specified accelerations and densities.


Beam and truss members are displayed as hollow cylinders regardless of their actual cross-section shape. A structural member is automatically identified as a beam and meshed by a number of uniform elements so you can view the variation of deformation and stresses along the length of the member.


Results for each element are presented in its local directions. There is no averaging of stresses for truss and beam elements. You can view uniform axial stresses, torsional, bending stresses in two orthogonal directions (dir 1 and dir 2), and the worst stresses on extreme fibers generated by combining axial and bending stresses.

A beam section is subjected to an axial force P and two moments M1 and M2 as shown below. The moment M1 is about the dir 1 axis and the moment M2 is about the dir 2 axis.

The software provides the following options for viewing stresses:

  • Axial: Uniform axial stress = P/A

  • Bending in local direction 1: Bending stresses due to M2. This is referred to as Bending Ms/Ss in the plot name, title, and legend.

  • Bending in local direction 2: Bending stress due to M1. This is referred to as Bending Mt/St in the plot name, title, and legend.

Click here to learn about beam directions.

  • Worst case: The software automatically calculates the highest stresses at a critical point on the cross-section by combining axial and bending stresses due to M1 and M2. This is the recommended stress to view.

In general, the software calculates 4 stress values at the extreme fibers of each end.  When viewing worst case stresses, the software shows one value for each beam segment. This value is the largest in magnitude out of the 8 values calculated for the beam segment. These values are accurate for beam with cross-sections that are symmetric in two directions. These values are conservative for other cases.

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