Material property calibration is more important than element size and number of different materials on the finite element modelling of vertebral bodies: A Taguchi study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Finite element (FE) modelling of a vertebral body (VB) is considered challenging due to the many parameters involved such as element size and type, and material properties. Previous studies have reported how these parameters affect the mechanical behaviour of a VB model; however, most studies just compared results without any specific statistical tool to quantify their influence. The Taguchi Method (TM) has been successfully used in manufacturing and biomechanics to evaluate process parameters and to determine optimum set-up conditions. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of the main finite element modelling parameters on the mechanical behaviour of a VB model using the Taguchi Method. A FE model was developed based on a C2 juvenile porcine vertebral body and three of the most commonly used modelling parameters were evaluated using TM in terms of the change in the predicted stiffness in comparison to experimental values: element size, number of different material properties for VB (based on grey-scale bins) and calibration factor for grey-scale to density to Young's Modulus equation. The influence of the combined factors was also assessed. The Taguchi analysis showed that the three factors are independent. The calibration factor is the main contributor, accounting for 97% of the predicted stiffness, with the value of 0.03 most closely aligning the numerical and experimental results. Element size accounted for 2% of the predicted stiffness, with 0.75 mm being the optimal, while the number of grey-scale bins influenced the results by less than 1%. Our findings indicate that the calibration factor is the main modelling parameter, with the element size and number of bins accounting for less than 3% of the predicted stiffness. Therefore, calibration of material properties should be done based on a large number of samples to ensure reliable results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Engineering & Physics
Early online date28 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jul 2020


  • Finite element method
  • Taguchi method
  • Vertebral bodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering

Cite this