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The third Sandia Fracture Challenge: from theory to practice in a classroom setting

  • Sandia Fracture Challenge 2017
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Three computational methods for modeling fracture are compared in the context of a class’ participation in the Third Sandia Fracture Challenge (SFC3). The SFC3 was issued to assess blind predictions of ductile fracture in a complex specimen geometry produced via additive manufacturing of stainless steel 316L powder. In this work, three finite-element-based methods are investigated: (1) adaptive remeshing, with or without material-state mapping; (2) element deletion; and (3) the extended finite element method. Each student team was tasked with learning about its respective method, calibrating model parameters, and performing blind prediction(s) of fracture/failure in the challenge-geometry specimen. Out of 21 teams who participated in the SFC3, three of the seven student teams from this class project ranked among the top five based on either global force-displacement or local strain predictions. Advantages and disadvantages of the three modeling approaches are identified in terms of mesh dependency, user-friendliness, and accuracy compared to experimental results. Recommendations regarding project management and organization are offered to facilitate future classroom participation in the Sandia Fracture Challenge or similar blind round-robin exercises.

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  1. One of the teams (Team E) had four members to share the load of modifying and running external scripts for material-state mapping.

  2. The predictions from Teams E* and E** were not submitted to the SFC3 because the teams neglected to write out logarithmic strain, which was a required quantity of interest for participation (see Sect. 2.2). Consequently, any results involving logarithmic strain described in this manuscript do not include predictions from Teams E* and E**. The team names are assigned “E*” and “E**” to associate them with “Team E”, originally named in the lead SFC3 article (Kramer et al. 2019), since all three teams used the adaptive-remeshing technique.

  3. Despite violation of the small-scale yielding assumption, \(K_{I}\) is used as a surrogate to represent the relevant crack-front fields.

  4. Analysis paralysis is a feeling of being overwhelmed (often caused by information overload) that leads to complete inaction.


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A.D. Spear would like to acknowledge Professors Anthony Ingraffea and Alan Zehnder from Cornell University for inspiring the content and structure of the Fatigue and Fracture course. A.D. Spear’s time on this project spent outside of the regular course obligations was supported by the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Award under Grant No. CMMI-1752400.

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Correspondence to Ashley D. Spear.

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See Fig. 17.

Fig. 17
figure 17

Lecture-by-lecture schedule of the Fatigue and Fracture course offered at the University of Utah in the spring semester of 2017

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Spear, A.D., Czabaj, M.W., Newell, P. et al. The third Sandia Fracture Challenge: from theory to practice in a classroom setting. Int J Fract 218, 171–194 (2019).

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