Neutral Axis (NA)
Let us consider a beam initially unstressed as shown in fig 1(a). Now the beam is subjected to a constant bending moment (i.e. ‘Zero Shearing Force’) along its length as would be obtained by applying equal couples at each end. The beam will bend to the radius R as shown in Fig 1(b)
As a result of this bending, the top fibers of the beam will be subjected to tension and the bottom to compression it is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that some where between the two there are points at which the stress is zero. The locus of all such points is known as neutral axis . The radius of curvature R is then measured to this axis. For symmetrical sections the N. A. is the axis of symmetry but what ever the section N. A. will always pass through the center of the area or centroid.
The above restrictions have been taken so as to eliminate the possibility of ‘twisting‘ of the beam.
We know that when a beam is under bending the fibres at the top will be lengthened while at the bottom will be shortened provided the bending moment M acts at the ends. In between these there are some fibres which remain unchanged in length that is they are not strained, that is they do not carry any stress. The plane containing such fibres is called neutral surface.
The line of intersection between the neutral surface and the transverse exploratory section is called the Neutral axis (N A) .