|Research Area:||Computational Biomechanics, FEBio||Year:||2011|
|Type of Publication:||Article|
|Authors:||Maas, S A Ellis, B J Rawlins, D S Edgar, L T Henak, C R Weiss, J A|
|Journal:||SCI Technical Report, University of Utah||Volume:||UUSCI-2011-007|
Finite element simulations in computational biomechanics commonly require the discretization of extremely complicated geometries. Creating meshes for these complex geometries can be very difficult and time consuming using hexahedral elements. Automatic meshing algorithms exist for tetrahedral elements, but these elements often have numerical problems that discourage their use in complex finite element models. To overcome these problems we have implemented a stabilized, nodally-integrated tetrahedral element formulation in FEBio, our in-house developed finite element code, allowing researchers to use linear tetrahedral elements in their models and still obtain accurate solutions. In addition to facilitating automatic mesh generation, this also allows researchers to use mesh refinement algorithms which are fairly well developed for tetrahedral elements but not so much for hexahedral elements. In this document, the implementation of the stabilized, nodally- integrated, tetrahedral element, named the “UT4 element”, is described. Two slightly different variations of the nodally integrated tetrahedral element are considered. In one variation the entire virtual work is stabilized and in the other one the stabilization is only applied to the isochoric part of the virtual work. The implementation of both formulations has been verified and the convergence behavior illustrated using the patch test and three verification problems. Also, a model from our laboratory with very complex geometry is discretized and analyzed using the UT4 element to show its utility for a problem from the biomechanics literature. The convergence behavior of the UT4 element does vary depending on problem, tetrahedral mesh structure and choice of formulation parameters, but the results from the verification problems should assure analysts that a converged solution using the UT4 element can be obtained that is more accurate than the solution from a classical linear tetrahedral formulation.