An Efficient Inverse Finite Element Method for Shape and Stress Sensing of Laminated Composite and Sandwich Plates and Shells

Adnan Kefal, Alexander Tessler, Erkan Oterkus

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The inverse Finite Element Method (iFEM) is a revolutionary methodology for real-time reconstruction of full-field structural displacements and stresses in structures that are instrumented with strain sensors. This inverse problem is commonly referred to as shape and stress sensing, which is well-recognized as an enabling technology for structural health monitoring systems. In this study, an improved iFEM formulation is proposed for shape and stress sensing of laminated composite and sandwich plates and shells. The formulation includes the kinematics of a shear deformation plate theory known as Refined Zigzag Theory (RZT) as its baseline. The present iFEM formulation is based upon the minimization of a weighted-least-squares functional that uses the complete set of section strain s of RZT. The improved iFEM methodology is applicable for shape and stress sensing of thin and moderately thick plate and shell structures involving a relatively small number of strain gauges. The main advantage of the current formulation is that highly accurate through-the-thickness distributions of displacements, strains, and stresses are attainable using an element based on simple C0-continuous displacement interpolation functions. A three-node inverse-shell element, named i3-RZT, is developed. Two example problems are examined in detail: (1) a simply supported rectangular laminated composite plate and (2) a wedge structure with a hole near one of the clamped ends. For both problems, the experimental strain data are generated numerically by the direct finite element analysis using high-fidelity discretizations. These strains are then regarded as the experimental strains obtained from surface mounted strain gauges or embedded fiber Bragg grating (FBG) sensors. The numerical results demonstrate the superior capability and potential applicability of the i3-RZT/iFE M methodology for performing accurate shape and stress sensing of complex composite structures.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationHampton, V.A.
Commissioning bodyNASA
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2018


  • inverse finite element method
  • full field structural displacements
  • structural health monitoring


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