A new method for non-destructive measurement of arbitrary 3D stress state using photoelasticity has been developed. The new approach, namely, load incremental approach, is an attempt to solve the non-linear inverse problem of 3D photoelasticity by considering change in stress state for a load increment and linearizing the non-linear governing equation. As long as the applied load increment is small and photoelastic images are taken with high resolution in load increment, this method works and can reconstruct arbitrary 3D stress state. Numerical simulations clarify the effect of (i) the material sensitivity, (ii) the number of the observations and (iii) the constraint on the observation directions on the performance of the proposed method. These results provide the fundamental data for designing the experimental setup for 3D photoelasticity.
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