Shear Centre: Thin and Thick Shells
By BYJU'S Exam Prep
Updated on: September 25th, 2023
In civil engineering, structures are designed based on the external load acting on them. These loads should act in such a way internal reactions nullify the effect of external load. To nullify the effect, these loads should act on a particular point for a particular crosssection. The shear centre can also be defined in the same contrast. The shear centre is the point on which, if the load acts, there will not be any twisting on that section.
Many points can be defined similarly to the shear centre in a structural member. These points can be centroid, point of contra flexure, point of inflexion, etc. This article contains basic notes on the “Shear centre” topic of the “Strength of Materials” subject.
Table of content
What is Shear Centre?
The shear centre is defined as the point about which the external load must be applied to produce no twisting moment across the crosssection of the structural member. Loads must be applied at a particular point in the crosssection, called the shear centre if the beam is to bend without twisting.
The shear centre of the crosssection may differ from the centroid of the crosssection. And the distribution of the shear stress across the section depends on the geometry of the section and other crosssectional parameters. The resultant of the shear stress for a particular crosssection acts on the point of the shear centre of the section. For a doubly symmetric crosssection, the shear centre and centroid of the section will coincide. The transverse load will result in a bending moment and twisting moment for a beam if it is not applied at the shear centre, but if it is applied on the shear centre, then it will only cause a bending moment to the crosssection.
Location of Shear Centre
The shear centre for a member is the point at which, if the load is applied, it will cause no twisting to the centre. the location of the shear centre can be found by equating the moment due to external force to the total resisting moment for a particular section. Here a general expression for a section is explained below with the help of the following diagram.
Unsymmetric Loading of ThinWalled Members
The Beam loaded in a vertical plane of symmetry deforms in the symmetry plane without twisting.
A beam without a vertical plane of symmetry bends and twists under loading.
If the shear load is applied such that the beam does not twist, then the shear stress distribution satisfies the following equation.
F and F’ indicate a couple of Fh and the need for applying torque and the shear load. It can be expressed as Fh = Ve
Shear Stress Distribution Strategy
 Determine the location of centroid and I_{yy}, I_{zz} and I_{yz} as needed – (symmetric sections subject to V_{y} needs only I_{zz})
 Divide the section into elements according to geometry (change in slope)
 Start with a vector following the element centre line from a free end
 Calculate the first moment of the area. This determines the shear flow distribution
 A negative shear value indicates the direction of shear flow opposite to the assumed vector
 Calculate the first moment of the area. This determines the shear flow distribution
Shear stress distribution for symmetric sections subject to bending about one axis

For elements parallel to the bending axis Linear distribution

For elements normal to bending axis Parabolic distribution
For unsymmetric sections, shear flow in all elements is parabolic
When moving from one element to another, the end value of shear in one element equals the initial value for the subsequent element (from equilibrium)
Shear Centres for Some Other Sections
As we discussed, if the load is applied on the shear centre, it will cause no twisting to the crosssection. So, it is important to know the shear centre for the section used in constructing the structures. Here a few commonly used structural sections and their shear centre are given for proper understanding.
 Symmetric crosssections
Doubly symmetric cross sections Coincides with centroid
Singly symmetric cross sections Lies on the axis of symmetry
 Unsymmetric crosssections
For thinwalled open sections The opposite side of the open part
What are the Pressure Vessels?
Pressure vessels are storage tanks specially designed to resist the effect of external pressure. Types of pressure vessels can be classified mainly into two types, which are explained below.
 Thin shells
If the thickness of the wall of the shell is less than 1/10 to 1/15 of its diameter, then the shell is called a thin shell.
t < (D_{i} / 10) to (D_{i} / 15)
 Thick shells
If the thickness of the wall of the shell is greater than 1/10 to 1/15 of its diameter, it is called a thick shell.
t > (D_{i} / 10) to (D_{i} / 15)
Where the nature of stress in a thin cylindrical shell subjected to internal pressure
 Hoop stress/circumferential stress will be tensile in nature.
 Longitudinal stress/axial stress will be tensile in nature
 Radial stress will be compressive in nature.
Stresses in Thin Cylindrical Shell
 Circumferential Stress /Hoop Stress
σ_{h} = pd/2t ≥ pd/2tη
Where p = Intensity of internal pressure
d = Diameter of the shell
t = Thickness of shell
η = Efficiency of joint
 Longitudinal Stress
σ_{l} = pd/2t ≥ pd/2tη
 Hoop Strain
ε_{h} = pd (2 – μ)/4tE
 Longitudinal Strain
ε_{L} = pd (1 – 2μ)/4tE
 The ratio of Hoop Strain to Longitudinal Strain
ε_{h}/ε_{L} = (2 – μ)/(1 – 2μ)
 Volumetric Strain of Cylinder
ε_{v} = pd (5 – 4μ)/4tE
Stresses in Thin Spherical Shell
 Hoop stress/longitudinal stress
σ_{L} = σ_{h} = pd/4t
 Hoop stress/longitudinal strain
ε_{L} = ε_{h} = pd (1 – μ)/4tE
 Volumetric strain of sphere
ε_{L} = 3pd (1 – μ)/4tE
Assumptions of Lame’s Theory for analysis of Thick Cylinders
 Homogeneous, isotropic and linearly elastic material.
 The plane section of the cylinder, perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, remains the plane.
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