Beam (structure)
Overview

A beam is a horizontal structural element that is capable of withstanding load
Structural loads or actions are forces, deformations or accelerations applied to a structure or its components.Loads cause stresses, deformations and displacements in structures. Assessment of their effects is carried out by the methods of structural analysis...

primarily by resisting bending
Bending
In engineering mechanics, bending characterizes the behavior of a slender structural element subjected to an external load applied perpendicularly to a longitudinal axis of the element. The structural element is assumed to be such that at least one of its dimensions is a small fraction, typically...

. The bending force induced into the material of the beam as a result of the external loads, own weight, span
Span (architecture)
Span is the distance between two intermediate supports for a structure, e.g. a beam or a bridge.A span can be closed by a solid beam or of a rope...

and external reactions to these loads is called a bending moment
Bending Moment
A bending moment exists in a structural element when a moment is applied to the element so that the element bends. Moments and torques are measured as a force multiplied by a distance so they have as unit newton-metres , or pound-foot or foot-pound...

.
Beams generally carry vertical
Vertical direction
In astronomy, geography, geometry and related sciences and contexts, a direction passing by a given point is said to be vertical if it is locally aligned with the gradient of the gravity field, i.e., with the direction of the gravitational force at that point...

gravitational force
Force
In physics, a force is any influence that causes an object to undergo a change in speed, a change in direction, or a change in shape. In other words, a force is that which can cause an object with mass to change its velocity , i.e., to accelerate, or which can cause a flexible object to deform...

s but can also be used to carry horizontal
Horizontal plane
In geometry, physics, astronomy, geography, and related sciences, a plane is said to be horizontal at a given point if it is perpendicular to the gradient of the gravity field at that point— in other words, if apparent gravity makes a plumb bob hang perpendicular to the plane at that point.In...