Overcoming the cohesive zone limit in composites delamination: modeling with slender structural elements and higher-order adaptive integration

Raffaele Russo, Boyang Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Cohesive element (CE) is a well-established finite element for fracture, widely used for the modeling of delamination in composites. However, an extremely fine mesh is usually needed to resolve the cohesive zone, making CE-based delamination analysis computationally prohibitive for applications beyond the scale of lab coupons. In this work, a new CE-based method of modeling delamination in composites is proposed to overcome this cohesive zone limit on the mesh density. The proposed method makes use of slender structural elements for the plies, a compatible formulation with adaptive higher-order integration for the CEs, and the corotational formulation for geometrically nonlinear analysis. The proposed method is verified and validated on the classical benchmark problems of Mode I, II, mixed-mode delamination, a buckling-induced delamination problem and a double-delamination problem. The results show that elements much larger than the cohesive zone length can be used while retaining accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5511-5545
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • adaptive integration
  • cohesive element
  • cohesive zone
  • delamination

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