Determining the geometric characteristics of even complex cross-sections of steel beams is not a major challenge nowadays. The problem arises when openings of various shapes and sizes appear at more or less regular intervals along the length of the beam. Such alternations cause the beam to have different stiffnesses along its length. It has different bending and shear stiffnesses at the opening point and in the full section. In this paper, we present a very convenient and easy-to-implement method of determining the equivalent stiffness of a beam with any cross-section (open or closed) and with any system of holes along its length. The presented method uses the principles of the finite element method (FEM), but does not require any formal analysis, i.e., solving the system of equations. All that is needed is a global stiffness matrix of the representative volumetric element (RVE) of the 3D representation of a beam modeled with shell finite elements. The proposed shell-to-beam homogenization procedure is based on the strain energy equivalence, and allows for precise and quick determination of all equivalent stiffnesses of a beam (flexural and shear). The results of the numerical homogenization procedure were compared with the existing analytical solution and experimental results of various sections. It has been shown that the results obtained are comparable with the reference results.
Keywords: beam element; finite element analysis; numerical homogenization; open cross-section; perforation; shell element; thin-walled steel structure.