• XFEM;
  • NURBS;
  • homogenization;
  • composites;
  • weak discontinuities


The FE-simulation of inhomogeneous structures, such as composite materials, biological tissues or foams, requires the generation of respective finite element meshes. With increasing complexity of the inner architecture of such structures, this becomes a time-consuming and laborious task. Additionally, the risk of forming bad-shaped elements that may lead to ill-conditioned numerical problems grows significantly. A solution to this problem provides the extended finite element method (XFEM). Thereby, the interface between different materials is represented by a local enrichment of the displacement approximation. As a consequence of this, the element boundary need not be aligned to the interface.

In order to improve the accuracy of the interface approximation, the development of a plane element based on the XFEM and quadratic shape functions will be presented. This element allows for the description of curved material interfaces. The computation of the element stiffness matrix requires a numerical integration process that accounts for discontinuous fields. Regarding a linear element formulation, this can be achieved by an adapted triangulation of the element domain. However, in the case of a curved interface this solution is not applicable. Hence, non-uniform rational B-Spline (NURBS) surfaces are used to evaluate the integrals numerically.

Finally, the results of different examples will show the general properties such as the accuracy of the numerical integration procedure and the convergence behavior of this element formulation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.