A three-force member is in general a that is not simply in tension or compression. A member of this kind has shear forces perpendicular to the member and subjected to bending loads. If forces are applied to more than two positions on the member, it is three-force member. Any beam is a three-force member according to the above definition.
Frames are pin-connected structures with some or all members are three-force members. To analyze a frame, we can disconnect the three-force member from the structure and draw the free-body diagram of the member. This approach is called the .
In this method, three equilibrium equations can be written
Below is a figure that shows the difference between axial and non-axial (three-force) members.