Journal article

Structural effects on deformation and fracture of random fiber networks and consequences on continuum models


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Publication Details

Author list: Isaksson, Per

Publication year: 2009

Start page: 2320

End page: 2329

Number of pages: 10

ISSN: 0020-7683


View additional information: View in Web of Science


The mechanical behavior of fibrous networks is governed by complex multiple mechanisms. This study examines the effect of microstructure on the macroscopic deformation and fracture of two-dimensional random fiber networks and its practical implications for understanding the material failure in paper materials by using finite element models. Remote load is a pure mode I opening field, applied via a boundary layer. Characteristic networks, consisting of the union of solutions of several unique networks, are interpolated on a rectangular grid covering the whole problem domain. The interpolated solutions are interpreted as network-equivalent continuums representing the mechanical behavior, on average, for a specific set of structural properties. A regularization routine is included in a variational procedure in order to minimize potential energy in the body and produce continuous strains at cell borders in the grid. It is shown that using a classical continuum linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) approach to describe macroscopic singular-dominated fields in fiber networks, can lead to erroneous results especially in networks having a low degree of bonds per fiber. The classical continuum description is too simple to capture the essential mechanical behavior for this class of material since a structural effect, that alters the displacement field, becomes pronounced. It is necessary to include a nonlocal theory to describe the mechanical behavior at a continuum level. By using an appropriate characteristic length in a nonlocal continuum formulation, strain energies, in the neighborhood of a dominant macroscopic singularity, are calculated that agree well with characteristic network models and hence produce fairly good agreements between the networks and the nonlocal continuum models. A key conclusion found is that, only for networks with a high degree of bonding, can the mechanical behavior around a macroscopic singularity be captured by the classical local continuum theory. In networks with a low degree of bonds per fiber, there are regions far away from the macroscopic singularity that have relatively higher magnitudes of strain energy than predicted by the classical theory. A relation between an internal length scale parameter, used in the nonlocal continuum model, and the structural properties of the network is approximated by a simple function.


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