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This work presents a novel technique for estimating the prestressing forces in simply supported beams with axial prestress force. The technique is based on the use of generic finite elements for modeling the beam and experimental time-domain response to simultaneously identify axial forces and generic parameters. Parameter updating is accomplished using a Simulated Annealing algorithm implemented for the solution of the prestress force identification problem. The effectiveness of the method was assessed in numerical simulations and was further verified on an experimental prestressed concrete beam. The results show that the inclusion of generic elements allows the identification of the force to be achieved even in the presence of errors in model parameters, thus eliminating the restraints of previous approaches.
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