Many engineering structures are nowadays made of composite materials or metal foam. These modern engineering materials contain very complex inner geometry. To simulate the deformational behaviour of these structures often requires a high number of discretisation elements. This in turn yields a very large system of linear equations that are extremely time and memory consuming or practically impossible to solve. It is therefore desirable to find an approach to overcome this obstacle. In this paper a numerical method is proposed to find an approximate substitute model for geometrical complex structures.

To examine the capability to detect and localise damage using the Measurement- and Model-based Structural Analysis (MeMoS), a small-scale truss bridge (1520 mm × 720 mm × 720 mm) made of aluminium profiles is built as a test specimen for this purpose. The truss frame of the test bridge is made of aluminium profiles with a sophisticated design of the cross-sectional area. In comparison, with solid profiles, only a fraction of the material is needed to produce the profiles, while their bending resistance decreases slightly. The profiles are built into a truss frame by connecting them by means of fastening sets made of steel. The bridge model is mounted on four steel bearings which each of them consist of a cylinder arranged between two plates. Fixed bearings are made by holding onto one end of the bridge. The bridge is subjected by an external load by placing a heavy object beneath it. At the same time, measurements can be conducted below the bridge. Therefore, the bridge specimen is elevated by attaching it on a pedestal with four columns. Damages can be induced by loosening the fastening pieces.