Advanced thin-walled beam finite elements

Advanced thin-walled beam finite elements [NI-SERV-2020-35]

Make an Enquiry

Advanced thin-walled beam finite elements that can be used to model the behaviour of beam-like structures subjected to cross-section deformation

Service/Expertise Overview

Our services comprise the structural analysis of slender and thin-walled beam-like structures undergoing complex geometrically non-linear phenomena, including cross-section distortion. This is achieved using “advanced” beam finite elements, which include cross-section deformation and can be combined with standard shell elements. The available services comprise the calculation of (i) cross-section properties for arbitrary shapes, (ii) bifurcation loads, (iii) natural frequencies and (iv) non-linear large displacement load-displacement paths.

The most remarkable feature of our beam finite elements lies it the fact that the cross-section kinematics is described using a set of hierarchic and structurally meaningful cross-section deformation modes that enable acquiring an in-depth and unique insight into the mechanics of the problem under consideration. In particular, extremely accurate solutions are obtained with just a few cross-section deformation modes (hence just a few degrees-of-freedom) and, in some cases, analytical formulae can be derived, which have a significant practical interest.

For large displacements, the so-called geometrically exact approach is employed, meaning that no geometric simplifications are introduced besides the assumed kinematics. This makes it possible to handle finite rotations in a very elegant and computationally efficient way.

A wide range of material behaviours can be modelled, including steel plasticity and concrete cracking, crushing & creep.

Competitive advantages

Our own finite elements are used, which are not available elsewhere.


Our services are of particularly interest to the steel and steel-concrete construction industry, namely for Engineers developing new products (e.g. cold-formed steel products) and/or designing structures. Software companies working in the construction industry can be also interested, as we already developed specific software for a foreign company. However, anyone interested in modelling thin-walled beam-like elements could be interested in our services.

Research centre

Civil Engineering Department

Academic Information | NOVA School of Science and Technology | FCT NOVA