An augmented finite element method for modeling arbitrary discontinuities in composite materials

Daosheng Ling, Qingda Yang, Brian Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


An augmented finite element method ("A-FEM") is presented that is a variant of the method of Hansbo and Hansbo (Comput Methods Appl Mech Eng, 193: 3523-3540, 2004), which can fully account for arbitrary discontinuities that traverse the interior of elements. Like the method of Hansbo and Hansbo, the A-FEM preserves elemental locality, because element augmentation is implemented within single elements and involves nodal information from the modified element only. The A-FEM offers the additional convenience that the augmentation is implemented via separable mathematical elements that employ standard finite element nodal interpolation only. Thus, the formulation is fully compatible with standard commercial finite element packages and can be incorporated as a user element without access to the source code. Because possible discontinuities include both elastic heterogeneity and cracks, the A-FEM is ideally suited to modeling damage evolution in structural or biological materials with complex morphology. Elements of a multi-scale approach to analyzing damage mechanisms in laminated or woven textile composites are used to validate the A-FEM and illustrate its possible uses. Key capabilities of the formulation include the use of meshes that need not conform to the surfaces of heterogeneities; the ability to apply the augmented element recursively, enabling modeling of multiple discontinuities arising on different, possibly intersecting surfaces within an element; and the ease with which cohesive zone models of nonlinear fracture can be incorporated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-73
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Fracture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


  • A-FEM
  • Cohesive zone model
  • Discontinuity
  • Finite element method
  • Textile composite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modeling and Simulation


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