Solved Examples > Calculation of bending stress in a beam

Problem 2-1

A simply supported beam is subjected to the loading as shown in figure 2-1(a). Determine the absolute maximum bending stress in the beam if the beam has a rectangular cross-section as shown in figure 2-1(b).  Also draw bending stress diagram.

simply supported beam

Figure 2-1(a)

simply supported beam

Figure 2-1(b)


The bending stress is calculated by using the bending equation given below
M / I = σ / y
M = bending moment
I = moment of inertia about neutral axis of the section
σ = bending stress
y = the distance from neutral axis to the point of bending stress

we can write;

σ = M y  / I

The above relation shows that bending stress will be maximum when the distance y is maximum i.e. at the top or bottom of the section means at a distance of 5 cm from the neutral axis of this section..

Absolute maximum bending stress will occur at the section where the bending moment is maximum.

The given beam is simply supported with uniform load on the entire span. In this case the maximum bending moment will occur at the mid-span of the beam and can be calculated by the following formula

Mmax = w L2/8

Where;    w = uniform load on the beam (in this problem it is 2 kN/m)

L = beam span (equal to 4 m)

Therefore Mmax = 2 x 42 / 8 = 4 kNm

You can also use our bending moment calculator.

For a rectangular section, Moment of inertia about the neutral axis, Ixx = bd3/12

In this section, b = 5 cm, d = 10 cm. The neutral axis is passing through the centroid of the section.

Therefore  Ixx = 5 x 103 / 12 = 0.416 x 103 cm4 = 0.416 x 10-5 m4

You can also use our moment of inertia calculator.

Absolute maximum bending stress = (Mmax) (ymax) / (Ixx);

substituting the values we get;

Absolute maximum bending stress = 4 kNm x 0.05 m / (0.416 x 10-5m4) = 0.48 x 105 kN/m2 = 48 MPa

(1 MPa = 1 Mega Pascal = 106 N/m2)

The bending stress diagram will be as given below in Fig 2-1(c)

simply supported beam

Figure 2-1(c)

The bending stress above the neutral axis (N.A.) will be compressive which is shown as negative whereas the bending stress below the neutral axis will be tensile and shown as positive.

You can visit the following links of solved examples on Bending moment and shear force calculations and plotting of diagrams

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