# Euler-Bernoulli Beam - FEATool Modeling and Implementation Example

This post will discuss how to implement and model elastic deformations of simple beams with FEATool Multiphysics. Although also available as a pre-defined physics mode and GUI option, beams and truss structures can also be implemented and accurately simulated with slight extension of the available FEM Matlab functions and subroutines. The following modeling example will be limited to small deformations according to Euler-Bernoulli beam theory.

## Static deformation

For modeling the static vertical deflections, *v(x)* of a
horizontal beam the following fourth order equation applies

\[ -\frac{\partial^2 }{\partial x^2}(EI(x)\frac{\partial^2 v}{\partial x^2}) = q(x) \]

where *E* is the modulus of elasticity, *I(x)* cross-section moment of
inertia, and *q(x)* any applied volume load or force.

Due to the partial integration in the finite element weak formulation
it is sufficient with basis functions with non-vanishing 2nd
derivatives. Traditionally FEM beam simulations employ the 3rd order
Hermite finite element. Although FEATool
currently does not include support for evaluating 2nd order
derivatives, the open design of the source code makes this easy to
support simply by including the following *i_eval* case in the
*sf_line_H3* m-file definition (for more regarding custom finite
element shape functions in Matlab script code see the previous post on
implementing user defined FEM basis functions

```
function [ vBase, nLDof, xLDof, sfun ] = ...
sf_line_H3( i_eval, n_sdim, n_vert, i_dof, xi, aInvJac, vBase )
...
case 22 % Evaluation of second derivatives.
switch i_dof % Basis function derivative to evaluate.
case 1
dNdxi1 = 6*(2*xi(1)-1) ./ aInvJac(:,3);
dNdxi2 = 0;
case 2
dNdxi1 = 0;
dNdxi2 = -6*(2*xi(2)-1) ./ aInvJac(:,3);
case 3
dNdxi1 = 6*xi(1) - 2;
dNdxi2 = 0;
case 4
dNdxi1 = 0;
dNdxi2 = 6*xi(2) - 2;
end
vBase = aInvJac(:,1) .* dNdxi1 + aInvJac(:,2) .* dNdxi2;
....
```

In addition to the standard *i_eval* = 1 function value, and 2/3/4
x/y/z-derivative evaluations, we have created the new case *22* for
the *x*^{2}-derivative.

To define the simulation model we first create a finite element
analysis *fea* struct with a line grid spanning from *0* to *L* with
*nx* cells

```
% Grid generation.
fea.sdim = {'x'}; % Space dimension coordinate name.
fea.grid = linegrid( nx, 0, L );
```

We define the PDE equation for the y-displacement *v*

```
% Problem and equation definitions.
fea.dvar{1} = 'v'; % Dependent variable name.
fea.sfun{1} = 'sf_line_H3'; % FEM shape function for v.
eqn_v = '-E*I*vx_x = q';
```

Note here that this equation specifies *vx_x* for the bilinear form,
not *vxx_xx* which one would like. This is due to the fact that the
FEATool equation parser not yet supports 2nd order derivatives, thus
*vx_x* is used as a temporary placeholder. Furthermore, we also add a
help equation for the rotation $\theta$

```
fea.dvar{1} = 'th'; % Help variable name.
fea.sfun{1} = 'sflag2';
eqn_th = 'th_t - vx_t = 0';
```

This help equation is not essential and does not influence the
solution since it simply is an algebraic expression for $\theta =
\frac{\partial v}{\partial x}$. We will however use the *th* variable
in postprocessing, or more accurately *thx* = $\frac{\partial
\theta}{\partial x}$, which is equivalent to the 2nd derivative of
*v* used in calculating the bending moment.

Having specified the equations we can call the FEATool equation parser
which processes the string equations into the weak finite element
definitions into the *fea.eqn* fields

```
fea.eqn = parseeqn( { eqn_v, eqn_th }, fea.dvar, fea.sdim );
fea.eqn.a.form{1} = [22;22];
```

Note here that we manually substitute the first weak *a* bilinear form
component from `[2;2]`

(due to *vx_x*) to
`[22;22]`

which will correspond to the sought term
*vxx_xx*. What this simply means in practical terms is that in the
FEM system matrix assembly step an *i_eval* flag of *22* will be
passed to the FEM trial and test shape function routine instead of the
usual *2*.

Boundary conditions also need to be prescribed, in this case the
assumption is the the left end at *x=0* is completely fixed while the
right end is free. This means homogeneous Dirichlet conditions at
point 1 and Neumann at point 2, for both the displacement and
rotational degrees of freedom. For the help equation do-nothing
Neumann BCs are appropriate.

```
% Dirichlet boundary conditions.
bdr_d_v = { 0 [] ;
0 [] };
bdr_d_th = { [] [] };
fea.bdr.d = { bdr_d_v, bdr_d_th };
% Neumann boundary conditions.
bdr_n_v = { [] 0 ;
[] 0 };
bdr_n_th = { 0 0 };
fea.bdr.n = { bdr_n_v, bdr_n_th };
```

Before we solve the problem we define some model constants and expressions. In FEATool these can conveniently be used both in equation and boundary definitions, as well as postprocessing, and can be either scalar or general string expressions of both Matlab built-in and user defined functions (as long as the functions are found on the Matlab path or current directory).

```
% Coefficients and equation/postprocessing expressions.
fea.expr = { 'L', L ;
'E', E ;
'I', I ;
'q', q ;
'M', 'E*I*thx' };
```

After everything is defined one can call the final parser to check everything, and call the solver. In this case due to the higher order Hermite FEM basis function we also need to use a corresponding higher order numerical integration or quadrature rule.

```
% Parse and solve problem.
fea = parseprob( fea );
fea.sol.u = solvestat( fea, 'icub', 4 );
```

When the problem has been solved we can plot the results and in this
case compare with the analytical reference solution (note that for the
definition of the moment *M* we use the derivative of the help
variable *thx* as defined in the *fea.expr* field)

```
postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', 'E*I*v/(q*L^4)', 'linewidth', 2 ), hold on
postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', 'x^2*(6*L^2-4*L*x+x^2)/24/L^4', 'color', 'r', 'linestyle', ':' )
title( 'E*I*v(x)/(q*L^4)' )
postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', 'E*I*th/(q*L^3)', 'linewidth', 2 ), hold on
postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', 'x*(3*L^2-3*L*x+x^2)/6/L^3', 'color', 'r', 'linestyle', ':' )
title( 'E*I*theta(x)/(q*L^3)' )
postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', 'M/(q*L^2)', 'linewidth', 2 ), hold on
postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', '1/2*(L-x)^2/L^2', 'color', 'r', 'linestyle', ':' )
title( 'M(x)/(q*L^2)' )
```

Note that due to Octave bugs the postprocessing commands above crash and segfault on the tested systems, an alternative is to use the integrated Plotly html web visualization and posprocessing functionality.

```
p1 = postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', 'E*I*v/(q*L^4)', 'linewidth', 2, 'renderer', 'plotly' )
p2 = postplot( fea, 'surfexpr', 'x^2*(6*L^2-4*L*x+x^2)/24/L^4', 'color', 'r', 'linestyle', ':', 'renderer', 'plotly' )
p1.data = [ p1.data p2.data ];
plotly_html_file = plotlyoffline( p1 )
```

Although very hard to discern from the resulting image, the exact and computed solutions agree and perfectly overlap as would be expected here.

## Vibration analysis

To perform an vibrational analysis to calculate eigenmodes and
eigenfrequencies we use manual assembly to build the input required
for the Matlab *eigs* function (calling arpack). Here we want to get
the mass and stiffness matrices due to

\[ \rho A(x)\frac{\partial^2 v}{\partial t^2} - \frac{\partial^2 }{\partial x^2}(EI(x)\frac{\partial^2 v}{\partial x^2}) = 0 \]

where $\rho$ is the material density, and *A* the cross-sectional
area. For the problem setup we proceed as above omitting the help
equation for *th*. To directly compute the matrices we use the
`assembleprob`

function with
flags *f_m*, *f_a*, and *f_sparse* to compute and return the sparse
mass and stiffness matrices

```
% Parse and assemble matrices.
fea = parseprob( fea );
[M,A] = assembleprob( fea, 'f_m', 1, 'f_a', 1, 'f_sparse', 1, 'icub', 4 );
```

As for boundary conditions we must here eliminate rows corresponding to the homogeneous Dirichlet ones as

```
% Eliminate Dirichlet boundary conditions from matrices.
ix_b = ones(size(M,1),1);
[tmp,ix_b] = bdrsetd( [], ix_b, fea );
ix_rem = find(ix_b==0);
M(:,ix_rem) = [];
M(ix_rem,:) = [];
A(:,ix_rem) = [];
A(ix_rem,:) = [];
```

The problem can now be solved for the desired number of eigenfrequencies by calling the built-in eigs function

```
% Solve for eigenvalues and eigenvectors.
n_eigs = 6;
[V,D] = eigs( A, M, n_eigs, 0 );
efq = sqrt(diag(D))/(2*pi);
```

We can also plot and visualize the four first vibration modes as follows

```
figure, hold on, grid on
cols = {'b' 'r' 'y' 'g' 'c' 'm'};
x = fea.grid.p;
ind_dof_v = find(ix_b(1:length(x)));
for i=1:4
y = zeros(size(x));
y(ind_dof_v) = V(1:length(ind_dof_v),n_eigs-i+1);
plot( x, y, 'color', cols{mod(i-1,6)+1}, 'linewidth', 2 )
end
legend( {'Mode 1' 'Mode 2' 'Mode 3' 'Mode 4'} )
title( 'Vibration modes' )
xlabel( 'x' )
ylabel( 'Displacement' )
```

The FEATool Multiphysics model m-script files for these two beam simulation examples can be downloaded from the links below