# Calculate deflection of a beam with an arbitrary shape

I have a beam with rectangular cross section, but rather an strange shape in the length wise direction as seen below: So I have taken out the symmetry part of it: And it actually has some nice radius's due to metal forming: the beam is fixed at 0 and symmetric about 5. The Beam sees a Distributed load at s4. The distributed load is actually a gasket so when my beam deflect I actually need to iterate to make sure I reach a steady condition.

The reason why I would like analytic solution is for understanding of whats going on. The problem is a coupled problem, below the beam is a fluid flowing and also the beam has electric current flowing through it, so its all coupled and I would like to experiment with different materials. I have tried calculating the moment along the curve by saying that the axial force can be neglected and that the fixed(welded end) can rotate, it might not be 100% accurate but I assumed this will be close enough to the real world: and the moment seems to make sense: this also fits with FEM The problem is that I can not figure out how to calculate the deflection: Can you not simply take the derivative of the moment or something to get the deflection?

I have tried to solve this but it gives me completely wrong answer and not a nice symmetric deflection curve, I also need to guess the slope at the beginning of the beam and make sure it's the same as the end (6.03225deg). So I have the curve of the beam (inside/outside i.e outside -inside= thickness) as well as the moment and the Young's modulus and inertia of the cross section, so I should be able to calculate the deflection right? • Could you please clarify what the actual question is? Of course, it is possible to calculate the deflection, but if what you are asking is an explanation for the deviation from a FEM-model is, you should include results from that model. I will note that your calculation of the section forces isn't right: You'll need to include the axial force as well and note that you've described a statically indeterminate structure, so it is somewhat more work than this. Apr 6, 2020 at 16:36
• Also, your bending moment diagram is wrong: you say the ends are fixed, yet you have zero bending moment at the ends.
– Wasabi
Apr 6, 2020 at 18:45
• It's a bit cheating, but you can always use programs to give you an idea of what your bending moment diagram should look like. See here for the result I got from a very rough model (uniform vertical loading throughout the beam).
– Wasabi
Apr 6, 2020 at 18:55
• Thanks for the feedback, I have updated the question with more details Apr 7, 2020 at 11:29
• @Wasabi which program did you use? Did you apply the load only on the flat top part? Apr 15, 2020 at 14:19

• You don't give complete equations for both deflection and angular rotation, both the one you give for the deflection isn't correct. The curvature is $$\kappa(x) = \frac{M(x)}{EI}$$ and the angular rotation is $$\alpha(x) = \int_0^x \kappa(x) dx + C$$ with C being an integration constant. You seem to be using this, so so far so good. To calculate the deflection (ignoring the axial deformations for simplicity), you would use $$\frac{d\delta}{dx} = \alpha$$. For a straight beam, you could use $$\delta(x) = \int_0^x \alpha(x) dx + C_2$$ with $$C_2$$ being another integration constant, which I will note is not what you are doing. (You need to integrate the curvature twice to get a deflection.) As the beam isn't straight, the calculation becomes more complicated and you will need to use a vectorized version: $$\delta$$ is a deformation perpendicular to the beam and will change direction around the bends. In orders words, the underlying assumption of the integration, that $$\delta(x+dx) = \delta(x) + \alpha dx$$, is simply not true (in the non-vector version), because $$\delta(x)$$ and $$\alpha dx$$ are deformations in two different directions.