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Shock and Vibration
Volume 18 (2011), Issue 3, Pages 485-502

Unified Formulation Applied to Free Vibrations Finite Element Analysis of Beams with Arbitrary Section

E. Carrera, M. Petrolo, and P. Nali

Department of Aeronautics and Space Engineering, Politecnico di Torino, Torino, Italy

Received 24 March 2009; Revised 7 October 2009

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper presents hierarchical finite elements on the basis of the Carrera Unified Formulation for free vibrations analysis of beam with arbitrary section geometries. The displacement components are expanded in terms of the section coordinates, (x, y), using a set of 1-D generalized displacement variables. N-order Taylor type expansions are employed. N is a free parameter of the formulation, it is supposed to be as high as 4. Linear (2 nodes), quadratic (3 nodes) and cubic (4 nodes) approximations along the beam axis, (z), are introduced to develop finite element matrices. These are obtained in terms of a few fundamental nuclei whose form is independent of both N and the number of element nodes. Natural frequencies and vibration modes are computed. Convergence and assessment with available results is first made considering different type of beam elements and expansion orders. Additional analyses consider different beam sections (square, annular and airfoil shaped) as well as boundary conditions (simply supported and cantilever beams). It has mainly been concluded that the proposed model is capable of detecting 3-D effects on the vibration modes as well as predicting shell-type vibration modes in case of thin walled beam sections.