• automatic merging;
  • tetrahedral meshes;
  • intersection loops;
  • surface partition


A generic algorithm is proposed to merge arbitrary solid tetrahedral meshes automatically into one single valid finite element mesh. The intersection segments in the form of distinct nonoverlapping loops between the boundary surfaces of the given solid objects are determined by the robust neighbor tracing technique. Each intersected triangle on the boundary surface will be triangulated to incorporate the intersection segments onto the boundary surface of the objects. The tetrahedra on the boundary surface associated with the intersected triangular facets are each divided into as many tetrahedra as the number of subtriangles on the triangulated facet. There is a natural partition of the boundary surfaces of the solid objects by the intersection loops into a number of zones. Volumes of intersection can now be identified by collected bounding surfaces from the surface patches of the partition. Whereas mesh compatibility has already been established on the boundary of the solid objects, mesh compatibility has yet to be restored on the bounding surfaces of the regions of intersection. Tetrahedra intersected by the cut surfaces are removed, and new tetrahedra can be generated to fill the volumes bounded by the cut surfaces and the portion of cavity boundary connected to the cut surfaces to restore mesh compatibility at the cut surfaces. Upon restoring compatibility on the bounding surfaces of the regions of intersection, the objects are ready to be merged together as all regions of intersection can be detached freely from the objects. All operations, besides the determination of intersections structurally in the form of loops, are virtually topological, and no parameter and tolerance is needed in the entire merging process. Examples are presented to show the steps and the details of the mesh merging procedure. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.