Fractal dimension analysis is an emerging method for vibration-based structural damage identification. An unresolved problem in this method is its incapability of identifying damage by higher-order mode shapes. The natural inflexions of higher-order mode shapes may cause false peaks of high-magnitude estimates of fractal dimension, largely masking any signature of damage. In the situation of a scanning laser vibrometer (SLV) providing a chance to reliably acquire higher-order (around tenth-order) mode shapes, an improved fractal dimension method that is capable of treating higher-order mode shapes for damage detection is of important significance. This study proposes a sophisticated fractal dimension method with the aid of a specially designed affine transformation that is able to obviate natural inflexions of a higher-order mode shape while preserving its substantial damage information. The affine transformed mode shape facilitates the fractal dimension analysis to yield an effective damage feature: fractal dimension trajectory, in which an abruptly risking peak clearly characterizes the location and severity of the damage. This new fractal dimension method is demonstrated on multiple cracks identification in numerically simulated damage scenarios. The effectiveness of the method is experimentally validated by using a SLV to acquire higher-order mode shapes of a cracked cantilever beam.
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