Journal article

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

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Author list: Isaksson, Per

Publication year: 2009

Start page: 2320

End page: 2329

Number of pages: 10

ISSN: 0020-7683

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijsolstr.2009.01.027

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Abstract

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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