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European Congress on Computational Methods in Applied Sciences and Engineering

ECCOMAS 2004
P. Neittaanm
aki, T. Rossi, S. Korotov, E. O
nate, J. P
eriaux, and D. Kn
orzer (eds.)
Jyv
askyl
a, 2428 July 2004

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF NUMERICAL MODELS FOR


CONCRETE CRACKING
Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G
unter Hofstetter
Institute for Structural Analysis and Strength of Materials
Technikerstrasse 13, University of Innsbruck, Austria
e-mail: Guenter.Hofstetter@uibk.ac.at, web page: http://ibft.uibk.ac.at

Key words: finite element method, concrete, crack, plasticity theory, smeared crack
model, strong discontinuity approach
Abstract. The reliable numerical simulation of the development of cracks in plain concrete plays an important role for the integrity assessment of concrete structures. To this
end a large number of material models for the representation of cracks, based on different
theories and different finite element methods, have been developed in recent years. It is
the objective of a task group of the thematic network Integrity Assessment of Large Concrete Dams to conduct a systematic comparison of different nonlinear material models
for cracking of plain concrete. To this end, a data base is set up, which contains selected
laboratory tests for plain concrete, subjected to 2D and 3D stress states. The present
contribution focuses on the numerical simulation of tests, contained in the data base, by
means of three different material models for concrete, consisting of (i) a concrete model
based on the smeared crack approach and formulated within the framework of the theory of
plasticity, (ii) a plastic-damage model, which is available in the commercial finite element
program ABAQUS and (iii) a crack model, based on the strong discontinuity approach. In
particular, the crack models are applied to the numerical simulation of (i) L-shaped panel
tests, (ii) wedge splitting tests, (iii) tests on single edge notched beams and (iv) mixed
mode fracture tests on double edge notched panels. On the basis of the numerical results
the advantages and shortcomings of the investigated models for cracking of concrete are
outlined.

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

INTRODUCTION

The reliable numerical simulation of the development of cracks in plain concrete plays
an important role for the integrity assessment of concrete structures. To this end a large
number of material models for the representation of cracks, based on different theories
and different finite element methods, have been developed in recent years.
It is the objective of a task group of the thematic network Integrity Assessment of
Large Concrete Dams (project acronym IALAD), funded by the European Community,
to conduct a systematic comparison of different nonlinear material models for cracking of
plain concrete. To this end, a data base is set up, which contains selected laboratory tests
for plain concrete, subjected to 2D and 3D stress states. The data base can be accessed
by the internet (http://nw-ialad.uibk.ac.at/Wp2/Tg2/). For each test the test setup, the
geometry, the material parameters and the loading can be retrieved from the data base.
In addition, experimental results, such as stress-strain diagrams, load-displacement curves
and crack patterns are provided and the numerical results, expected to be delivered by
interested participants, are stated.
Everybody is invited to make use of the data base for the validation of concrete models and to contribute numerical results with a short description of the employed model.
Suggestions, which further tests should be included in the data base, are welcome.
The present contribution focuses on the numerical simulation of tests, contained in the
data base, by means of three different material models for concrete, consisting of
a concrete model for 2D stress states, based on the smeared crack approach and
formulated within the framework of the theory of plasticity (model A),
a plastic-damage model, which is available in the commercial finite element program
ABAQUS (model B) and
a crack model, based on the strong discontinuity approach and formulated within
the framework of plasticity theory (model C).
In particular, the models are applied to the numerical simulation of
the L-shaped panel tests, conducted by Winkler [2],
the wedge splitting tests, conducted by Trunk [10],
tests on single edge notched beams, conducted by Feist [8] and
mixed mode fracture tests on double edge notched panels, conducted by NooruMohamed [11].

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

2
2.1

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE EMPLOYED CRACK MODELS


Smeared crack model based on plasticity theory (model A)

The material model, formulated for 2D stress states within the framework of the theory
of plasticity is based on the concrete model proposed in [1]. It is characterized by a
composite yield surface, consisting of the Rankine criterion to limit the tensile stress and
a Drucker-Prager yield function to describe the compressive regime. The plastic strains
are computed by means of an associated flow rule. Suitable softening laws are employed to
describe tensile and compressive failure. Cracking is represented in a smeared manner by
distributing the crack opening over the width of the respective finite element. Objectivity
of the numerical results with respect to the employed mesh size is obtained by employing
the specific fracture energy for tensile failure of concrete and an equivalent length. The
latter is simply taken as the root of the area of the respective finite element. Crushing
failure is treated in a similar manner. Damage due to tensile stresses is coupled with
damage due to compressive stresses for mixed tension-compression loading in order to
describe the decreasing compressive strength with increasing tensile stresses in lateral
direction. Unloading and reloading is modelled by the introduction of an isotropic scalar
damage model. A detailed description of the model, which also includes the representation
of tension-stiffening of reinforced concrete, can be found in [2, 3]. However, for the
numerical analyses described in the present paper primarily those parts of the model
referring to concrete cracking are essential.
2.2

Plastic damage model (model B)

The plastic damage model for concrete, which is available in the commercial FEprogram ABAQUS [4], is based on the concrete model proposed in [5]. It allows the
consideration of cyclic and dynamic loading by modelling the stiffness degradation due to
unloading and reloading. To this end, the yield function is formulated in terms of effective
stresses rather than total stresses. The plastic strains are computed by means of a nonassociative flow rule in order to control dilatancy. Hardening and softening behaviour is
represented in terms of two hardening variables, which represent equivalent plastic strains
in tension and compression, respectively. They control the evolution of the yield surface
and can be related to the specific fracture energies in uniaxial tension and compression in
order to ensure objective results with respect to the employed mesh size. The evolution of
stiffness degradation due to cyclic loading is decoupled from the outlined material model
for the elastic-plastic response. The degradation of the elastic stiffness during unloading
and reloading is modelled by means of two independent damage variables, one for tensile
unloading and reloading and one for compressive unloading and reloading, which also depend on the mentioned two hardening variables. Moreover, recovery of the elastic stiffness
due to crack closure can be modelled. For the numerical analyses described in the present
paper primarily those parts of the model referring to concrete cracking due to monotonic
loading are essential.
3

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

2.3

Crack model based on the strong discontinuity approach (model C)

The crack model is based on the concept of finite elements with embedded discontinuities. The strong discontinuity approach, characterized by the representation of cracks by
discontinuities in the displacement field, is formulated within the framework of plasticity
theory [6, 7]. The yield condition provides a relation between the normal component of the
traction vector and the crack opening and the flow rule yields the enhanced strains, which
approximate the effect of the discontinuity. Being distributed over the width of those finite elements, which are crossed by the discontinuity, the enhanced strains complement
the regular strains of the continuous displacement field. Discontinuities are allowed to
cross elements in arbitrary ways and continuity of the crack path is enforced by means of
a partial domain crack tracking strategy [8]. The model is based on the fixed crack concept assuming the geometrical representation of the discontinuity surface to be fixed with
respect to time. The crack direction upon incipient cracking is predicted on the basis of
the direction of the maximum principal nonlocal strain, which is obtained from a nonlocal
averaging procedure of the strains by means of a bell-shaped distribution function within
a particular interaction radius. A detailed description is given in [9].
3
3.1

NUMERICAL SIMULATIONS OF SELECTED TESTS


L-shaped panel test

The L-shaped panel has become a popular benchmark test for the validation of computational models for the numerical simulation of cracking of plain concrete. In order
to provide experimental data, tests on L-shaped structural members were performed at
the University of Innsbruck [2]. The test setup with the geometric properties and the
boundary conditions is shown in Fig. 1(a).
The long and the short edges of the L-shaped panel are given as 500 and 250 mm,
respectively; its thickness is 100 mm. The lower horizontal edge of the vertical leg is
fixed. A vertical load Fv , acting uniformly across the thickness opposite to the direction
of gravity, is applied at the lower horizontal surface of the horizontal leg at a distance
of 30 mm from the vertical end face. Shortly before reaching the maximum load the
experiment is switched from load-control to displacement control.
Youngs modulus, Poissons ratio, the cylindrical compressive strength, the uniaxial
tensile strength and the specific fracture energy are given as E = 25850 N/mm2 , = 0.18,
fc = 31.0 N/mm2 , ft = 2.70 N/mm2 and Gf = 0.09 Nmm/mm2 .
Fig. 2 depicts the relationship between the applied load Fv and the vertical displacement
v at the point of load application. The grey shaded area shows the scatter of the experimental results from three tests on identical specimens, whereas the load-displacement
curves refer to the numerically predicted behaviour employing the three crack models and
the four FE-meshes, shown in Fig. 3. The mesh data of the employed FE-meshes are given
in Table 1. The meshes LSP-600, LSP-1151 and LPS-2910 consist of linear triangular elements (CST-elements), whereas the FE-mesh LSP-2246 contains bilinear quadrilateral
4

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
500
250

250

250

t = 100 mm

500
F v, v
30

250

all lengths in [mm]


(a)

(b)

Figure 1: L-shaped panel test: (a) Test setup, (b) scatter of observed crack paths
10.0

10.0

exp. spectrum
model A
model B
model C

load [kN]

8.0
7.0
6.0
4.0

6.0
5.0
4.0

3.0
2.0

3.0
2.0

1.0

1.0
0.1

0.2

(a) LSP-600
11.0
10.0

0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8


vertical displacement [mm]

0.9

0.0
0.0

1.0

8.0
7.0

load [kN]

5.0
4.0
3.0

2.0
1.0

(c) LSP-2910

0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8


vertical displacement [mm]

0.9

1.0

0.9

0.0
0.0

0.1

(d) LSP-2246

0.2

0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8


vertical displacement [mm]

0.9

Figure 2: L-shaped panel test: Comparison of measured and computed load-displacement curves

1.0

4.0
3.0

1.0
0.2

0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8


vertical displacement [mm]

exp. spectrum
model A
model B

7.0
6.0
5.0

2.0

0.1

0.2

9.0
8.0

6.0

0.0
0.0

0.1

(b) LSP-1151

exp. spectrum
model A
model B
model C

9.0

load [kN]

8.0
7.0

5.0

0.0
0.0

exp. spectrum
model A
model B
model C

9.0

load [kN]

9.0

1.0

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
model B

model C

FE-mesh LSP-2246

FE-mesh LSP-2910

FE-mesh LSP-1151

FE-mesh LSP-600

model A

Figure 3: L-shaped panel test: FE-meshes and computed crack paths

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

element type
mesh identifier
number of elements
number of nodes
number of dofs

LSP-600
600
341
682

CST
LSP-1151
1151
630
1260

LSP-2910
2910
1539
3078

CPS4
LSP-2246
2246
2316
4632

Table 1: L-shaped panel test: Properties of the employed FE-meshes

elements (CPS4-elements). Since model C, which is based on the strong discontinuity


approach, is only implemented for CST-elements, for the latter model numerical results
are presented only for the meshes with CST-elements.
Apart from the FE-meshes, Fig. 3 also shows the computed crack paths by marking
those elements, which are crossed by the crack, by grey shading. The computed crack
paths can be compared with the respective crack paths observed in the tests, which are
shown in Fig. 1(b).
3.2

Wedge splitting test

A series of wedge splitting tests on dam concrete was performed at the Institute for
Building Materials of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Z
urich, in order to
investigate the size dependence of fracture mechanics parameters. The extensive experimental program is documented in [10]. In the present context only the material data for
the tests on dam concrete, denoted as CP250, are described. A schematic diagram of the
wedge splitting specimens is shown in Figure 4.
The dimensions H and B of tested specimens ranged from 400 mm to 3200 mm. In the
present context only the specimen, characterized by H = B = 1600 mm and a thickness
of t = 400 mm is considered. The remaining dimensions are given as k = 100 mm,
s = 100 mm and a0 = 775 mm. In the vertical plane of symmetry the specimen has a
notch of depth (a0 s/2). The specimen rests on two supports, which are located below
the centre of gravity of each half of the specimen. Youngs modulus, Poissons ratio,
the uniaxial compressive strength, the uniaxial tensile strength and the specific fracture
energy are given as E = 28300 N/mm2 , = 0.18, fc = 44.7 N/mm2 , ft = 2.11 N/mm2
and Gf = 0.482 Nmm/mm2 .
In the tests, the relationship between the horizontal splitting force F , acting uniformly
along the inner vertical faces of the specimen, and the change of the distance s of the
points of load application, denoted as crack mouth opening displacement, was measured.
Fig. 5 depicts the measured and the computed relationships between F and s, the latter
on the basis of the three different crack models employing the four FE-meshes, shown in
Fig. 6.
The FE-meshes, denoted as WST-1512 and WST-2472 are irregular meshes consisting
of CST-elements without taking any advantage of symmetry, whereas the FE-meshes

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
detail

k
s, F

a0

s/2
s/2

detail

Figure 4: Wedge splitting test: Test setup

0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75


crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
(a) FE-mesh WST-1512

110.0
100.0
90.0
80.0
70.0
60.0
50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0
0.0
0.0
2.0

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

load [kN]

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

load [kN]

110.0
100.0
90.0
80.0
70.0
60.0
50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0
0.0
0.0

0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75


crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
(b) FE-mesh WST-2472

2.0

load [kN]

load [kN]

110.0
exp. curve
100.0
model A
exp. curve
90.0
model B
model A
80.0
model B
70.0
60.0
50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0
0.0
0.0
0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75 2.0
2.0
0.25 0.50 0.75 1.00 1.25 1.50 1.75
crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
(c) FE-mesh WST-2042
(d) FE-mesh WST-1224

100.0
90.0
80.0
70.0
60.0
50.0
40.0
30.0
20.0
10.0
0.0
0.0

Figure 5: Wedge splitting test: Comparison of measured and computed load-displacement diagrams

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
model B

model C

FE-mesh WST-1224

FE-mesh WST-2042

FE-mesh WST-2472

FE-mesh WST-1512

model A

Figure 6: Wedge splitting test: FE-meshes and computed crack paths

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

element type
mesh identifier
number of elements
number of nodes
number of dofs

CST
WST-1512 WST-2472
1512
2472
816
1301
1632
2602

CPS4
WST-2042 WST-1224
2042
1224
2158
1287
4316
2574

Table 2: Wedge splitting test: Properties of the employed FE-meshes

WST-2042 and WST-1224 are symmetric with respect to the theoretical crack path. The
latter is a straight line, extending in the vertical plane of symmetry from the notch to the
bottom of the specimen. The mesh properties are summarized in Table 2. The predicted
crack paths, computed on the basis of the three crack models and the different FE-meshes
are depicted in Fig. 6.
3.3

Single edge notched beam test

Beam-shaped specimens were tested by Feist [8] in order to investigate the crack development in plain concrete subjected to 2D and 3D stress states. Two series of experiments
were carried out with five identical specimens for each series. In the first series a 2D
stress state was generated to obtain reference data on curved crack paths for 2D stress
states, whereas in the second series a 3D stress state was generated to obtain data on
curved crack surfaces for the validation of material models for 3D stress states. The
present contribution only focuses on the 2D tests. The dimensions of the specimens for
the 2D tests are 600 180 100 mm with a span of 500 mm (Fig. 7). Youngs modulus,
Poissons ratio, the uniaxial compressive strength, determined on cubic specimens, the
uniaxial tensile strength and the specific fracture energy are given as E = 34760 N/mm2 ,
= 0.21, fc = 50.4 N/mm2 , ft = 3.4 N/mm2 and Gf = 0.071 Nmm/mm2 .
At a horizontal distance of 175 mm from the left support a uniform line load is applied
along the entire width of the beam. A notch of 30 mm depth and 5 mm width is located
in the plane of symmetry perpendicular to the beam axis at the tensile face of the beam.
The notch serves as the location of crack initiation. Both, the notch width and the notch
depth are constant over the width of the beam.
Fig. 8 contains the measured and the computed relations between the applied load
F and the crack mouth opening displacement s (see Fig. 7(a)). The latter have been
obtained on the basis of the three different crack models employing the four FE-meshes,
which are partly shown in Fig. 9. The FE-meshes PCT2D-700, PCT2D-2190 and PCT2D3590 consist of CST-elements, whereas the mesh PCT2D-2418 contains bilinear quadrilateral elements. The first mesh is an irregular mesh, whereas the second one is regular. The
third mesh is characterized by a regular fine discretization in the vicinity of the expected
crack, whereas the fourth mesh is characterized by an irregular fine discretization in this
region. The properties of the employed FE-meshes are summarized in Table 3.

10

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
s
30.0

50.0
support sleeve
130.0

SG

50.0

support sleeve
50.0

notch
F

225.0

375.0

300.0

300.0
all lengths in [mm]

(a)

(b)

Figure 7: Notched beam test: (a) Test setup, (b) observed crack path

18.0

load [kN]

16.0
14.0
12.0

20.0

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

18.0
16.0
load [kN]

20.0

10.0
8.0
6.0
2.0
0.0
0.0

0.0
0.0

0.4
0.2
0.3
0.1
crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
(b) FE-mesh PCT2D-2190

0.5

20.0

20.0
exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

12.0
10.0
8.0

18.0
16.0
14.0
load [kN]

load [kN]

8.0

2.0

0.4
0.2
0.3
0.1
crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
(a) FE-mesh PCT2D-700

14.0

10.0
6.0
4.0

4.0

18.0
16.0

14.0
12.0

2.0

2.0
0.5

exp. curve
model A
model B

10.0
8.0
6.0
4.0

0.4
0.2
0.3
0.1
crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
(c) FE-mesh PCT2D-3590

0.0
0.0

0.4
0.2
0.3
0.1
crack mouth opening displacement [mm]
(d) FE-mesh PCT2D-2418

Figure 8: Notched beam test: Comparison of measured and computed load-displacement diagrams

11

0.5

12.0

6.0
4.0
0.0
0.0

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

0.5

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
Detail domain for the crack path plots

model B

model C

FE-mesh PCT2D-2418

FE-mesh PCT2D-3590

FE-mesh PCT2D-2190

FE-mesh PCT2D-700

model A

Figure 9: Notched beam test: FE-meshes and computed crack paths

12

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

element type
mesh identifier
number of elements
number of nodes
number of dofs

PCT2D-700
700
393
786

CST
PCT2D-2190
2190
1178
2356

PCT2D-3590
3590
1878
3756

CPS4
PCT2D-2418
2418
2519
5038

Table 3: Notched beam test: Properties of the employed FE-meshes

The crack paths, computed on the basis of the three crack models are also shown Fig. 9.
They can be compared with the observed crack path of Fig. 7(b).
In addition to the crack mouth opening also the strains in the direction of the beam axis
were measured at selected points. Fig. 10 shows a comparison of the strains, measured
with the strain gauge SG, located at the lateral surface above the applied load at the
height of the notch tip (see Fig. 7), with the respective computed values.
exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

50

60

40
30
20
10
0
0.0

2.0

60

4.0

30
20

8.0 10.0 12.0 14.0 16.0 18.0 20.0


load [kN]
(b) FE-mesh PCT2D-2190

6.0

50
40

0.0

2.0

60

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

strain (SG) [. 10-6]

strain (SG) [. 10-6]

40

10

8.0 10.0 12.0 14.0 16.0 18.0 20.0


load [kN]
(a) FE-mesh PCT2D-700

30
20

4.0

6.0

exp. curve
model A
model B

50
40
30
20
10

10
0
0.0

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

50
strain (SG) [. 10-6]

strain (SG) [. 10-6]

65
60

8.0 10.0 12.0 14.0 16.0 18.0 20.0


load [kN]
(c) FE-mesh PCT2D-3590
2.0

4.0

6.0

0.0

2.0

4.0

6.0

8.0 10.0 12.0 14.0 16.0 18.0 20.0


load [kN]

(d) FE-mesh PCT2D-2418

Figure 10: Notched beam test: Comparison of measured and computed strains above the applied load at
the height of the notch tip

13

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

3.4

Mixed mode fracture test

A series of mixed mode fracture tests was undertaken by Nooru-Mohamed and van
Mier at Delft University of Technology. Results from seven series of tests with different
load paths were reported in Nooru-Mohameds Ph.D. thesis [11] and by van Mier [12].
The square shaped, double edge notched specimens are characterized by dimensions of
200 200 50 mm, a notch depth of 25 mm and a notch width of 5 mm. A schematic
diagram of the specimens and of the testing arrangement, relevant to the results reported
here, is shown in Figure 11(a).
un , Pn
vs , Ps

t = 50 mm

200
25

25
200
all lengths in [mm]

(a)

front face
rear face

front face
rear face

(c)

(b)

Figure 11: Mixed mode fracture test: (a) Test setup, (b) observed crack paths for load-path 4a, (c)
observed crack paths for load-path 4b

Here, only results from test series 4a and 4b are considered. In series 4a (4b) first a
shear load was applied to the specimen in displacement control up to Ps = 5 kN (10 kN),
with the axial load maintained at zero. Then an axial tensile load Pn was applied under
displacement control, whilst the shear force was maintained at a constant level. In [11]
the test designation for the test of series 4a is 48-03 and the two identical tests of series
4b are denoted as 46-05 and 47-01.
The compressive strength, obtained from cubes with dimensions of 150 mm, and the
splitting tensile strength for the specimen 46-05 are given as fc = 49.66 N/mm2 , fs =
3.76 N/mm2 , for the specimen 47-01 as fc = 46.19 N/mm2 , fs = 3.78 N/mm2 and for
the specimen 48-03 as fc = 46.24 N/mm2 , fs = 3.67 N/mm2 . From the splitting tensile
strength the uniaxial tensile strength was estimated for both tests as ft = 3.0 N/mm2 .
Youngs modulus and Poissons ratio are not provided in the test data, however, in a
numerical simulation, described in [11], they were chosen as E = 30000 N/mm2 and
= 0.2. The specific fracture energy is chosen as Gf = 0.110 Nmm/mm2 .
14

Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
25.0

15.0

20.0
load [kN]

load [kN]

20.0

25.0

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

10.0
5.0

0.1
0.15
0.05
vertical displacement [mm]
(a) load path 4a (FE-mesh NM-3474)

0.2

15.0
10.0

0.1
0.15
0.05
vertical displacement [mm]
(c) load path 4a (FE-mesh NM-10928)

0.0
0.0

0.1
0.15
0.05
vertical displacement [mm]
(b) load path 4b (FE-mesh NM-3474)

20.0

0.2

exp. curve
model A
model B

15.0
10.0
5.0

5.0
0.0
0.0

10.0

25.0

exp. curve
model A
model B
load [kN]

load [kN]

20.0

15.0

5.0

0.0
0.0

25.0

exp. curve
model A
model B
model C

0.2

0.0
0.0

0.1
0.15
0.05
vertical displacement [mm]
(d) load path 4b (FE-mesh NM-10928)

0.2

Figure 12: Mixed mode fracture test: Comparison of measured and computed load displacement diagrams

Fig. 12 shows the measured and computed relationships between the applied axial
tensile load Pn and the vertical displacement un . The load-displacement curves were
computed employing the three different crack models and the two irregular FE-meshes,
shown in Figs. 13 and 14. The first mesh, denoted as NM-3474, consists of CST-elements,
whereas the second one, denoted as NM-10928, contains bilinear quadrilateral elements.
The mesh data are summarized in Table 4. Fig. 13 also contains the computed crack
paths obtained by means of the three crack models employing the FE-mesh NM-3474.
Fig. 14 shows the FE-mesh NM-10928 and the crack paths computed by means of model
A and model B (model C is not available for quadrilateral finite elements). Because of
the very fine discretization the FE-mesh and the finite elements crossed by the cracks
are shown separately in Fig. 14. The computed crack paths can be compared with the
observed crack paths, shown in Fig. 11(b) and (c).

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Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter
model B

model C

FE-mesh NM-3474
load-path 4b

FE-mesh NM-3474
load-path 4a

model A

Figure 13: Mixed mode fracture test: Computed crack paths employing the FE-mesh NM-3474
model A

model B

load-path 4b

load-path 4a

FE-mesh NM-10928

Figure 14: Mixed mode fracture test: Computed crack paths employing the FE-mesh NM-10928

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Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

element type
mesh identifier
number of elements
number of nodes
number of dofs

CST
NM-3474
3474
1802
3564

CPS4
NM-10928
10928
11078
22074

Table 4: Mixed mode fracture test: Properties of the employed FE-meshes.

CONCLUSIONS

The comparison of the numerical results, obtained for the four selected tests on plain
concrete specimens by means of the three numerical models for concrete cracking, leads
to the following conclusions:
If regular meshes are employed, then the computed crack paths may be attracted
by mesh lines. This shortcoming holds for the plastic damage model (model B) and
to a somewhat lesser extent for the smeared crack model (model A). It results in
discrepancies between the experimental and the computed crack paths. This can
be seen for the L-shaped panel in Fig. 3 and for the single edge notched beam in
Fig. 9. The deviation of the computed crack path from the experimental one is
also reflected by the respective load-displacement diagrams (see Fig. 2(a) for the
L-shaped panel and Fig. 8(b) and (c) for the single edge notched beam) by the
overestimation of the ultimate load.
The shortcoming of computed crack paths following mesh lines by models A and
B also holds for unstructured meshes. Crack paths then typically follow a zig-zag
course, which can be seen for the L-shaped panel in Fig. 3 and for the wedgesplitting test in Fig. 6. Again, the deviation of the computed crack path from the
experimental one is reflected by the overestimation of the ultimate load (see Fig. 2(b)
and (c) for the L-shaped panel and Fig. 5(b) for the wedge splitting test).
Except for the mixed mode fracture test, for which all three models for concrete
cracking overestimate the ultimate load (Fig. 12), only the crack model based on the
strong discontinuity approach (model C) yields reliable predictions of the ultimate
load irrespective of the employed mesh.
The smeared crack model (model A) and the plastic damage model (model B) only
allow the prediction of elements crossed by cracks. In Figs. 3, 6, 9, 13 and 14 the
respective elements were marked by grey shading. In contrast to models A and B, the
crack model based on the strong discontinuity approach (model C) allows to predict
the discrete crack path by a discontinuity line, which is continuous across adjacent
elements. Hence, the illustrations of the cracked elements by grey shading in
Figs. 3, 6, 9, 13 and 14, obtained on the basis of model C, are complemented in
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Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

Fig. 15 by plots of the predicted discrete cracks paths. The latter can be compared
with the experimentally obtained crack paths shown in Figs. 1(b), 7(b) and 11(b)
and (c). This comparison shows that model C provides an objective resolution of
the macroscopic cracks irrespective of the employed mesh.

(a) L-shaped panel test


FE-mesh LSP-2910

(b) Wedge splitting test


FE-mesh WST-2472

(c) Single edge notched beam test


FE-mesh PCT2D-2190

(e) Mixed mode fracture test


load-path 4b
FE-mesh NM-3474

(d) Mixed mode fracture test


load-path 4a
FE-mesh NM-3474

Figure 15: Crack paths predicted by model C, based on the strong discontinuity approach

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Christian Feist, Walter Kerber, Hermann Lehar and G


unter Hofstetter

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