Some experimental measurements of the mean and standard deviation of the first-passage time of randomly excited cantilevers are presented. It is shown that these results can be predicted satisfactorily by using a theoretical method based on the energy envelope of the structure, together with information on the energy loss per cycle. This information can be derived either from free decay tests or from data on specific damping factors. The prediction technique does not require the damping forces to be modeled in explicit form and enables nonlinear damping effects to be readily incorporated. Some predicted nonlinear effects are confirmed by the experimental results.

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