Beam elements are very helpful in modeling structures such as space frames and bolted connections. At first glance beam elements appear simple; all that is required is a material, a cross section, orientation, and two nodes. It is important to keep in mind that this simplicity comes with some limitations. When is a beam element appropriate? What is a beam end release? Why are there stress results from 4 points? Where does the load get applied in non-symmetric beams?

This webinar was presented on June 23, 2016

This seminar introduces beam element theory and show the user how to set up beam properties in FEMAP 11.3. We’ll analyze a structure then explore some of the quirks of using beam elements, followed by a discussion of when they are helpful and when they should be avoided.


Beams: a sneaky, simple and complex element


PDF of Beams: A Sneaky Simple and Complex Element - FEMAP v11.3 (4.4 MB PDF)

Download Seminar Model Files (12.9 MB) (zip)



  • Beam element introduction
    • Theory
      • Exact Formulation, non-isoparametric
      • Stresses are Calculated at Stress Recovery Points
      • Definitions of Beam Jargon (i.e., End A, End B, Max)
      • Torsion in Beam Elements
    • Limitations
    • Applicability
  • Updated FEMAP 11.3 Beam Property Definition
  • Practical Beam Usage
    • Space Frame Structures
    • Bolted Connections
    • Plate and Beam Structures
    • Special Topics
      • Offsets
      • Beam End Releases
  • Loading Open Section Beams
    • Shear Center Offsets
  • Advanced Beam Post Processing
    • Full Field Stress Results