This paper studies the phenomenon of structural size effect and strain localization in J2 plasticity. Size effect is here understood as the change in the response of a given structure when the spatial dimensions are scaled up or down while the geometry and other relevant properties of the structure are preserved. The work exploits the advantages of the mixed displacement–pressure formulation in incompressible or quasi-incompressible situations. Elasto-J2-plastic constitutive behaviour with regularized softening is considered. Stability issues are discussed to ensure existence and uniqueness of the solution of the corresponding discrete finite element formulation. Numerical examples show that the formulation derived is able to solve a wide range of structural scales, including real life engineering applications. The results obtained do not suffer from spurious mesh dependence. Furthermore, the formulation includes the classical theories of perfect plasticity and linear fracture mechanics as limit cases.
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