With the rapid development of a continuously scanning laser Doppler vibrometer (CSLDV) technique, the full-field mode shapes of structures with high accuracy can be obtained. In this paper, a novel damage detection method using modal rotational mode shapes obtained with a uniform rate CSLDV measurement is proposed. The modal rotational damage indicators considering the changes of modal rotational mode shapes between the damaged and the undamaged states are established. Because the modal rotational mode shapes are obtained through the derivative of the detailed displacement mode shapes of transitional degree-of-freedoms (DOFs) with respect to the orthogonal directions, they are more sensitive than the normal displacement mode shapes. The uniform rate CSLDV measurement is essentially a uniform straight-line scanning technique and the measured mode shapes can be directly obtained through the demodulation of vibration signals. Besides, taking it for granted that a priori knowledge of the undamaged structure is not known, the undamaged mode shapes can be reconstructed from the measured damaged data using the fitted polynomial functions in which the minimum number of polynomial function coefficients are determined by a fit value threshold. The proposed method is firstly demonstrated by numerical simulation of the crack plate and then a plate structure with three damaged cases is taken as an example for further experimental study. The experimental results indicate the following: (1) The uniform rate CSLDV measurement can obtain the high accuracy modal rotational mode shapes with the advantage of eliminating the contaminated noise in the measurement; (2) the modal rotational damage indicators of the torsional modes are the most sensitive to the crack damage and they can clearly identify single, multiple damages and locations of the plate, and even slight crack damage, respectively. The effectiveness of the method paves the way for practical applications, such as ultra-light or composite structures.
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