Towards the predictive modeling of ductile failure
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The ability to predict ductile failure is considered by an experimental examination of the failure process, validation exercises to assess predictive ability, and development of a coupled experimental-numerical strategy to enhance model development. In situ loading of a polycrystalline metal inside a scanning electron microscope is performed on Al 6061-T6 that reveals matrix-dominated response for both deformation and failure. Highly localized deformation fields are found to exist within each grain as slip accumulates preferentially on a small fraction of crystallographic planes. No evidence of damage or material softening is found, implying that a strain-to-failure model is adequate for modeling fracture in this and similar material. This modeling insight is validated through blind predictive simulations performed in response to the 2012 and 2014 Sandia Fracture Challenges. Constitutive and failure models are calibrated and then embedded in highly refined finite element simulations to perform blind predictions of the failure behavior of the challenge geometries. Comparison of prediction to experiment shows that a well-calibrated model that captures the essential elastic-plastic constitutive behavior is necessary to capture confidently the response for structures with complex stress states, and is a prerequisite for a precise prediction of material failure. The validation exercises exposed the need to calibrate sophisticated plasticity models without a large experimental effort. To answer this need, a coupled experimental and numerical method is developed for characterizing the elastic-plastic constitutive properties of ductile materials using local deformation field information to enrich calibration data. The method is applied to a tensile test specimen and the material’s constitutive model, whose parameters are unknown a priori, is determined through an optimization process that compares these experimental measurements with iterative finite element simulations. The final parameters produce a simulation that tracks the local experimental displacement field to within a couple percent of error. Simultaneously, the percent error in the simulation for the load carried by the specimen throughout the test is less than one percent. The enriched calibration data is found to be sufficient to constrain model parameters describing anisotropy that could not be constrained by the global data alone.