The use of in situ strain measurements to reconstruct the deformed shape of structures is a key technology for real-time monitoring. A particularly promising, versatile and computationally efficient method is the inverse finite element method (iFEM), which can be used to reconstruct the displacement field of beam elements, plate and shell structures from some discrete strain measurements. The iFEM does not require the knowledge of the material properties. Nevertheless, it has always been applied to structures with linear material constitutive behavior. In the present work, advances are proposed to use the method also for concrete structures in civil engineering field such as bridges normally characterized by material nonlinearities due to the behavior of both steel and concrete. The effectiveness of iFEM, for simply supported reinforced concrete beam and continuous beams with load conditions that determine the yielding of reinforcing steel, is studied. In order to assess the influence on displacements and strains reconstructions, different measurement stations and mesh configurations are considered. Hybrid procedures employing iFEM analysis supported by bending moment-curvature relationship are proposed in case of lack of input data in plastic zones. The reliability of the results obtained is tested and commented on to highlight the effectiveness of the approach.
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