Reduction in mesh bias for dynamic fracture using adaptive splitting of polygonal finite elements

S. E. Leon, D. W. Spring, G. H. Paulino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Summary: We present a method to reduce mesh bias in dynamic fracture simulations using the finite element method with adaptive insertion of extrinsic cohesive zone elements along element boundaries. The geometry of the domain discretization is important in this setting because cracks are only allowed to propagate along element facets and can potentially bias the crack paths. To reduce mesh bias, we consider unstructured polygonal finite elements in this work. The meshes are generated with centroidal Voronoi tessellations to ensure element quality. However, the possible crack directions at each node are limited, making this discretization a poor candidate for dynamic fracture simulation. To overcome this problem, and significantly improve crack patterns, we propose adaptive element splitting, whereby the number of potential crack directions is increased at each crack tip. Thus, the crack is allowed to propagate through the polygonal element. Geometric studies illustrate the benefits of polygonal element discretizations employed with element splitting over other structured and unstructured discretizations for crack propagation applications. Numerical examples are performed and demonstrate good agreement with previous experimental and numerical results in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-576
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 23 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Numerical Analysis
  • General Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Cohesive fracture
  • Element splitting
  • Mesh dependency
  • Polygonal finite elements
  • Random meshes


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