Updating finite element models using measured vibration data

  • Michael I. Friswell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The modelling of mechanical structures using finite element analysis has become an indispensable stage in the design of new components and products. Once the theoretical design has been optimised a prototype may be constructed and tested. What can the engineer do if the measured and theoretically predicted vibration characteristics of the structure are significantly different? This thesis considers the problems of changing the parameters of the finite element model to improve the correlation between a physical structure and its mathematical model.
Two new methods are introduced to perform the systematic parameter updating. The first uses the measured modal model to derive the parameter values with the minimum variance. The user must provide estimates for the variance of the theoretical parameter values and the measured data. Previous authors using similar methods have assumed that the estimated parameters and measured modal properties are statistically independent. This will generally be the case during the first iteration but will not be the case subsequently.
The second method updates the parameters directly from the frequency response functions. The order of the finite element model of the structure is reduced as a function of the unknown parameters. A method related to a weighted equation error algorithm is used to update the parameters. After each iteration the weighting changes so that on convergence the output error is minimised.
The suggested methods are extensively tested using simulated data. An H frame is then used to demonstrate the algorithms on a physical structure.
Date of AwardAug 1990
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJohn E.T. Penny (Supervisor)


  • vibration
  • parameter updating
  • modal testing
  • finite element

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