Free Body Diagram: Advantages, Examples, Sample Questions

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 25th, 2023

A Free Body Diagram is a diagrammatic representation of a body or system isolated from the surroundings. It indicates all the forces acting on the body. It comes in very handy while visualizing the forces & moments acting on the body or system. A free Body Diagram is a graphical representation of the applied forces, moments, and consequent reactions on a body in a particular situation.

Free Body Diagram shows a body or a group of bodies and all the applied forces, moments, and reactions that operate on the body. The main purpose of the Free Body Diagram is to visualize the forces and to calculate reactions. In this article, we will define free body diagram and discuss different characteristics and important steps involved in knowing how to draw free body diagram.

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What is a Free Body Diagram?

The Free Body Diagram is very important in visualizing and calculating resultant forces. The interaction forces and/or moments assigned to the now opened-up body must follow Newton’s Third Law.

Free Body Diagram Definition

A Free Body Diagram is a diagram that simplifies a component or system of components to the loads and moments applied to them. A Free Body Diagram is required to find and evaluate different forces acting on a body whenever it is in equilibrium. For an object under action of forces, we have to define free body diagram as these diagrams will help us to compute internal forces within the body. The FBD will also help to determine the loading of particular structural components.

An FBD represents the body of interest and its external forces.

  • The body: Depending on the type of body (particle/ extended, rigid/ non-rigid) and the questions to be addressed, this is generally a schematic.
  • External forces: It is denoted by arrows with labels. A force arrow might indicate the path of action and its direction, the magnitude, and the application point.

Essential Characteristics of Free Body Diagram

Students can use a Free Body Diagram to envision an issue in its entirety or to understand a specific element of a more complex problem. So, in a nutshell, FBD is a fantastic tool for visualizing and solving engineering challenges.

There are some important points regarding Free Body Diagrams. A Free Body Diagram is a diagram or sketch of the selected system or body isolated from the surroundings. The system is shown to be completely isolated from all the other bodies, including the foundation, support, etc. Interaction in the system by each body is removed in the isolated system.

How to Draw Free Body Diagram?

Free-body diagrams depict the magnitude and direction of all forces operating on an item in a given condition. The amount of the force is represented by the size of the arrow in a free-body diagram. The arrow indicates the direction in which the force is acting. Each force arrow in the diagram is identified with the sort of force it represents.

First of all selection of a system is necessary. Then, we must identify all the forces acting on the isolated body or system. We need to choose the direction of forces and coordinate system. Resolve the forces along these axes and write the equilibrium equations. After writing all the necessary equilibrium equations, we must find the required unknown forces.

Advantages of a Free Body Diagram

Drawing a free-body diagram is crucial in addressing mechanics issues because it allows you to see all of the forces operating on a single item. To apply Newton’s Second Law to the motion of an item, the net external force acting on it must be determined.

There are many advantages of drawing Free Body Diagrams. It is a medium to convert ideas into a physical model. It also helps in understanding all facts of a problem. It assists in building up suitable mathematical equations between various forces acting upon a link.

Free Body Diagram Examples

While drawing the Free Body Diagram, all body supports are removed and replaced with reaction forces acting on it.

A. Simply Supported Beam


B. Spherical balls and wedge


Equations of Equilibrium

  • ∑Fx = 0
  • ∑Fy = 0
  • ∑M = 0

Free Body Diagram Questions

  1. Two bodies of masses 10kg and 20kg are connected together with the help of string and are placed on a horizontal smooth surface. The body of 10kg is pulled by 600N force. Find the Tension in the string.
    (Ans – 400N)
  2. Find the tension in three strings A, B & C from the below-given figure.
    (Ans – TA = 400N, TB = 500N & TC = 300N)


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