Photoelastic stress analysis

  • J. F. Orr
  • J. B. Finlay


Photoelastic stress analysis is a full-field technique for measuring the magnitudes and directions of principal stresses. The technique has been used traditionally to study plane polymer models of structures (Frocht, 1941a, 1941b) by passing polarized light through transparent, loaded models and interpreting stress fields from the formation of interference fringes. The fringes appear because the chosen materials become optically anisotropic when loaded. Although the formation of photoelastic fringes has been known since the early nineteenth century — the relationship between fringes and stresses was deduced in the 1850s — practical applications were initially hindered by impractical model materials such as glass. The use of celluloid by Coker in 1906 represented significant progress (Coker and Filon, 1957). Since then, more versatile polymer materials, including epoxy resins and urethane rubbers, have become available for modelling. Applications in biomechanics have developed in parallel to those of traditional engineering (Orr, 1992), particularly in the fields of orthopaedics (Orr et al., 1990) and dental surgery (Arcan and Zandman, 1984;Wang itet al., 1992).


Ultrahigh Molecular Weight Polyethylene Cement Layer Isochromatic Fringe Principal Stress Difference Rotational Moulding 
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© Chapman and Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. Orr
  • J. B. Finlay

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