A three-dimensional digital image correlation technique is presented for strain measurements in open-cell structures such as trabecular bone. The technique uses high-resolution computed tomography images for displacement measurements in the solid structure. In order to determine the local strain-state within single trabeculae, a tetrahedronization method is used to fill the solid structure with tetrahedrae. Displacements are calculated at the nodes of the tetrahedrae. The displacement data is subsequently converted to a deformation tensor in each of the tetrahedral element centers with a least-squares estimation method. Because the trabeculae are represented by a mesh, it is possible to deform this mesh according to the deformation tensor and, at the same time, visualize the calculated local strain in the deformed mesh with a finite element post-processing tool. In this way, the deformation of a single trabecula from an aluminum foam sample was determined and validated with rendered images of the three-dimensional sample. A precision analysis showed that a rigid translation or rotation does not affect the accuracy. Typical values for the standard deviation in the displacement and strain components are 2.0 μm and 0.01, respectively. Presently, the precision limits the technique to strain measurements beyond the yield strain.
Keywords: Strain measurements; Trabecular bone; Image correlation; Computed tomography