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Advanced finite elements are proposed for the mechanical analysis of heterogeneous materials. The approximation quality of these finite elements can be controlled by a variable order of B-spline shape functions. An element-based formulation is developed such that the finite element problem can iteratively be solved without storing a global stiffness matrix. This memory saving allows for an essential increase of problem size. The heterogeneous material is modelled by projection onto a uniform, orthogonal grid of elements. Conventional, strictly grid-based finite element models show severe oscillating defects in the stress solutions at material interfaces. This problem is cured by the extension to multiphase finite elements. This concept enables to define a heterogeneous material distribution within the finite element. This is possible by a variable number of integration points to each of which individual material properties can be assigned. Based on an interpolation of material properties at nodes and further smooth interpolation within the finite elements, a continuous material function is established. With both, continuous B-spline shape function and continuous material function, also the stress solution will be continuous in the domain. The inaccuracy implied by the continuous material field is by far less defective than the prior oscillating behaviour of stresses. One- and two-dimensional numerical examples are presented.

The present paper is part of a comprehensive approach of grid-based modelling. This approach includes geometrical modelling by pixel or voxel models, advanced multiphase B-spline finite elements of variable order and fast iterative solver methods based on the multigrid method. So far, we have only presented these grid-based methods in connection with linear elastic analysis of heterogeneous materials. Damage simulation demands further considerations. The direct stress solution of standard bilinear finite elements is severly defective, especially along material interfaces. Besides achieving objective constitutive modelling, various nonlocal formulations are applied to improve the stress solution. Such a corrective data processing can either refer to input data in terms of Young's modulus or to the attained finite element stress solution, as well as to a combination of both. A damage-controlled sequentially linear analysis is applied in connection with an isotropic damage law. Essentially by a high resolution of the heterogeneous solid, local isotropic damage on the material subscale allows to simulate complex damage topologies such as cracks. Therefore anisotropic degradation of a material sample can be simulated. Based on an effectively secantial global stiffness the analysis is numerically stable. The iteration step size is controlled for an adequate simulation of the damage path. This requires many steps, but in the iterative solution process each new step starts with the solution of the prior step. Therefore this method is quite effective. The present paper provides an introduction of the proposed concept for a stable simulation of damage in heterogeneous solids.

A fast solver method called the multigrid preconditioned conjugate gradient method is proposed for the mechanical analysis of heterogeneous materials on the mesoscale. Even small samples of a heterogeneous material such as concrete show a complex geometry of different phases. These materials can be modelled by projection onto a uniform, orthogonal grid of elements. As one major problem the possible resolution of the concrete specimen is generally restricted due to (a) computation times and even more critical (b) memory demand. Iterative solvers can be based on a local element-based formulation while orthogonal grids consist of geometrical identical elements. The element-based formulation is short and transparent, and therefore efficient in implementation. A variation of the material properties in elements or integration points is possible. The multigrid method is a fast iterative solver method, where ideally the computational effort only increases linear with problem size. This is an optimal property which is almost reached in the implementation presented here. In fact no other method is known which scales better than linear. Therefore the multigrid method gains in importance the larger the problem becomes. But for heterogeneous models with very large ratios of Young's moduli the multigrid method considerably slows down by a constant factor. Such large ratios occur in certain heterogeneous solids, as well as in the damage analysis of solids. As solution to this problem the multigrid preconditioned conjugate gradient method is proposed. A benchmark highlights the multigrid preconditioned conjugate gradient method as the method of choice for very large ratio's of Young's modulus. A proposed modified multigrid cycle shows good results, in the application as stand-alone solver or as preconditioner.

The importance of modern simulation methods in the mechanical analysis of heterogeneous solids is presented in detail. Thereby the problem is noted that even for small bodies the required high-resolution analysis reaches the limits of today's computational power, in terms of memory demand as well as acceptable computational effort. A further problem is that frequently the accuracy of geometrical modelling of heterogeneous bodies is inadequate. The present work introduces a systematic combination and adaption of grid-based methods for achieving an essentially higher resolution in the numerical analysis of heterogeneous solids. Grid-based methods are as well primely suited for developing efficient and numerically stable algorithms for flexible geometrical modeling. A key aspect is the uniform data management for a grid, which can be utilized to reduce the effort and complexity of almost all concerned methods. A new finite element program, called Mulgrido, was just developed to realize this concept consistently and to test the proposed methods. Several disadvantages which generally result from grid discretizations are selectively corrected by modified methods. The present work is structured into a geometrical model, a mechanical model and a numerical model. The geometrical model includes digital image-based modeling and in particular several methods for the theory-based generation of inclusion-matrix models. Essential contributions refer to variable shape, size distribution, separation checks and placement procedures of inclusions. The mechanical model prepares the fundamentals of continuum mechanics, homogenization and damage modeling for the following numerical methods. The first topic of the numerical model introduces to a special version of B-spline finite elements. These finite elements are entirely variable in the order k of B-splines. For homogeneous bodies this means that the approximation quality can arbitrarily be scaled. In addition, the multiphase finite element concept in combination with transition zones along material interfaces yields a valuable solution for heterogeneous bodies. As the formulation is element-based, the storage of a global stiffness matrix is superseded such that the memory demand can essentially be reduced. This is possible in combination with iterative solver methods which represent the second topic of the numerical model. Here, the focus lies on multigrid methods where the number of required operations to solve a linear equation system only increases linearly with problem size. Moreover, for badly conditioned problems quite an essential improvement is achieved by preconditioning. The third part of the numerical model discusses certain aspects of damage simulation which are closely related to the proposed grid discretization. The strong efficiency of the linear analysis can be maintained for damage simulation. This is achieved by a damage-controlled sequentially linear iteration scheme. Finally a study on the effective material behavior of heterogeneous bodies is presented. Especially the influence of inclusion shapes is examined. By means of altogether more than one hundred thousand random geometrical arrangements, the effective material behavior is statistically analyzed and assessed.