Open AccessOpen Access


Shape Sensing of Thin Shell Structure Based on Inverse Finite Element Method

Zhanjun Wu1, Tengteng Li1, Jiachen Zhang2, Yifan Wu3, Jianle Li1, Lei Yang1, Hao Xu1,*

1 State Key Laboratory of Structural Analysis for Industrial Equipment, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian, 116024, China
2 Division of Science and Technology, Beijing Normal University—Hong Kong Baptist University United International College, Zhuhai, 519000, China
3 Country School of Marxism, Northeastern University, Shenyang, 110167, China

* Corresponding Author: Hao Xu. Email:

Structural Durability & Health Monitoring 2022, 16(1), 1-14.


Shape sensing as a crucial component of structural health monitoring plays a vital role in real-time actuation and control of smart structures, and monitoring of structural integrity. As a model-based method, the inverse finite element method (iFEM) has been proved to be a valuable shape sensing tool that is suitable for complex structures. In this paper, we propose a novel approach for the shape sensing of thin shell structures with iFEM. Considering the structural form and stress characteristics of thin-walled structure, the error function consists of membrane and bending section strains only which is consistent with the Kirchhoff–Love shell theory. For numerical implementation, a new four-node quadrilateral inverse-shell element, iDKQ4, is developed by utilizing the kinematics of the classical shell theory. This new element includes hierarchical drilling rotation degrees-of-freedom (DOF) which enhance applicability to complex structures. Firstly, the reconstruction performance is examined numerically using a cantilever plate model. Following the validation cases, the applicability of the iDKQ4 element to more complex structures is demonstrated by the analysis of a thin wallpanel. Finally, the deformation of a typical aerospace thin-wall structure (the composite tank) is reconstructed with sparse strain data with the help of iDKQ4 element.


Cite This Article

Wu, Z., Li, T., Zhang, J., Wu, Y., Li, J. et al. (2022). Shape Sensing of Thin Shell Structure Based on Inverse Finite Element Method. Structural Durability & Health Monitoring, 16(1), 1–14.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
  • 1145


  • 904


  • 0


Share Link

WeChat scan