Skeleton curve and phantom node method for the Thick Level Set approach to fracture

L.A.T. Mororo*, A. Poot, F.P. van der Meer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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The Thick Level Set method (TLS) is an approach for non-local damage modeling in which the damage evolution is linked to the movement of a damage front described with the level set method. More recently, a new version of the TLS, designated as the TLSV2, has been proposed as a new concept for coupling continuum damage modeling and discrete cohesive crack modeling for failure analysis in solids. The main objective of this new framework is to profit from both modeling approaches. The continuum part allows for handling crack initiation, branching and merging, whereas the cohesive part brings the capability to handle discrete cracks with large crack opening or sliding without heavily distorted elements, and with the possibility to model stiffness recovery upon contact. In this paper, a generalized framework for the TLSV2 is introduced. Two major issues with the TLSV2 method that have not been dealt with since its inception are addressed in this study, and solutions are proposed. Firstly, the method depends on the location of skeleton curve of the level set field, on which the discontinuity in the displacement field is evaluated. The problem of locating the skeleton curve can be a complicated task, mainly because topological events may emerge as the analysis progresses, such as crack branching. The skeleton curve is determined through a combination of ball-shrinking and graph-based algorithms and then mapped onto the finite element mesh. Secondly, the cohesive forces and displacement discontinuity of the TLSV2 are modeled using the phantom node method. Furthermore, a new approach to compute the averaged values of local quantities is introduced, and model calibration is discussed. The degree of stiffness recovery under compression that is still needed for the continuum part is investigated. Numerical experiments demonstrate the accuracy and ability of the proposed model to handle simulation of failure analysis presenting complex topological crack patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108443
Number of pages24
JournalEngineering Fracture Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Damage mechanics
  • Fracture mechanics
  • Phantom node method
  • Skeleton curve
  • Thick Level Set

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