Timoshenko beam finite element with four dof and convergence of O(h<sup>4</sup>)

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In situations where transverse shear deformations and rotary inertia in beams are important, elements based on the Timoshenko beam theory are useful. Among the two-noded, four DOF elements derived from the minimum total potential energy principle, the HTK. element proposed by Hughes et al. using linear displacement functions for both w and θ and the T1CC4 element proposed by Tessler et al. using quadratic displacement function for w and linear displacement function for θ are well known in the literature. The convergence of the HTK element in the thin beam situation has been too poor due to shear locking but by using selective integration this element can be shown to be equivalent to the T1CC4 element which has a rate of convergence of O(h2). In this paper a five DOF element with w and θ at the end nodes and θ at the middle node and based on the cubic displacement function for w and the quadratic displacement function for θ is first developed. Statically condensing the middle rotational DOF, the well-known (4 × 4) stiffness matrix using the φ-factor defined as φ = 12EI/kGAL2 and hitherto obtained only through a flexibility approach or closed-form solution of the governing equations of the Timoshenko beam theory is derived. This element based on cubic displacement function for w has rate of convergence of O(h4), is completely free of shear locking and performs equally well in thin as well as thick beam situations. © 1992.