Numerical modelling of thin elastic solids in contact

Abstract : This dissertation focuses on the numerical modelling of thin elastic structures in contact. Many objects around us, either natural or man-made, are slender deformable objects. Curve-like objects such as industrial cables, helicopter blades, plant stems and hair can be modelled as thin elastic rods. While surface-like objects such as paper, boat sails, leaves and clothes can be modelled as thin elastic shells. The numerical study of the mechanical response of such structures is important in many applications of engineering, bio-mechanics, computer graphics and other fields. In this dissertation we treat rods and shells as finite dimensional multibody systems.When a multibody system is subject to frictional contact constraints, a problem often arises. In some configurations there may exist no contact force which can prevent the system from violating its contact constraints. This is known as the Painlev'e paradox. In the first part of this manuscript we analyze the contact problem (whose unknowns are the accelerations and the contact forces) and we derive computable upper bounds on the friction coefficients at each contact, such that if verified, the contact problem is well-posed and Painlev'e paradoxes are avoided.Some rod-like structures may easily bend and twist but hardly stretch and shear, such structures can be modelled as Kirchhoff rods. In the second part of this manuscript we consider the problem of computing the stable static equilibria of Kirchhoff rods subject to different boundary conditions and frictionless contact constraints. We formulate the problem as an Optimal Control Problem, where the strains of the rod are interpreted as control variables and the position and orientation of the rod are interpreted as state variables. Employing direct methods of numerical Optimal Control then leads us to the proposal of new spatial discretization schemes for Kirchhoff rods. The proposed schemes are either of the strain-based type, where the main degrees of freedom are the strains of the rod, or of the mixed type, where the main degrees of freedom are both the strains and the generalized displacements.Very much like for Kirchhoff rods, thin surface-like structures such as paper can hardly stretch or shear at all. One of the advantages of the strain based approach is that the no extension and no shear constraints of the Kirchhoff rod are handled intrinsically, without the need of stiff repulsion forces, or of further algebraic constraints on the degrees of freedom. In the third part of this dissertation we propose an extension of this approach to model the dynamics of inextensible and unshearable shells. We restrict our study to the case of a shell patch with a developable mid-surface. We use as primary degrees of freedom the components of the second fundamental form of the shell's mid-surface. This also leads to an intrinsic handling of the no shear and no extension constraints of the shell.
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Alejandro Blumentals. Numerical modelling of thin elastic solids in contact. Modeling and Simulation. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAM031⟩. ⟨tel-01682985⟩

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