A finite element based method to determine the incremental elastic material properties of planar membranes was developed and evaluated. The method is applicable to tissues that exhibit inhomogeneity, geometric and material nonlinearity, and anisotropy. Markers are placed on the tissue to form a four-node quadrilateral element. The specimen is loaded to an initial reference state, then three incremental loading sets are applied and the nodal displacements recorded. One of these loadings must include shear. These data are used to solve an over-determined system of equations for the tangent stiffness matrix. The method was first verified using analytical data. Next, data obtained from a latex rubber sheet were used to evaluate experimental procedures. Finally, experiments conducted on preconditioned rat skin revealed non-linear orthotropic behavior. The vector norm comparing the applied and calculated nodal force vectors was used to evaluate the accuracy of the solutions.

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