This work proposes a special type of Finite Element (FE) technology – the Empirical Interscale FE method – for modeling heterogeneous structures in the small strain regime, for both dynamic and static analyses. The method combines a domain decomposition framework, where interface conditions are established through “fictitious” frames, with dimensional hyperreduction at subdomain level. Similar to other multiscale FE methods, the structure is assumed to be partitioned into coarse-scale elements, each of these elements is equipped with a fine-scale subgrid, and the displacements of the boundaries of the coarse-scale elements are described by standard polynomial FE shape functions. The distinguishing feature of the proposed method is the employed “interscale” variational formulation, which directly relates coarse-scale nodal internal forces with fine-scale stresses, thereby avoiding the typical nested local/global problems that appear, in the nonlinear regime, in other multiscale methods. This distinctive feature, along with hyperreduction schemes for nodal internal and external body forces , greatly facilitate the implementation of the proposed formulation in existing FE codes for solid elements. Indeed, one only has to change the location and weights of the integration points, and to replace a few polynomial-based FE matrices with “empirical” operators, i.e., derived from the information obtained in appropriately chosen computational experiments. We demonstrate that the elements resulting from this formulation are not afflicted by volumetric locking when dealing with nearly-incompressible materials, and that they can handle non-matching fine-scale grids as well as curved structures. Last but not least, we show that, for periodic structures, this method converges upon mesh refinement to the solution delivered by classical first-order computational homogenization. Thus, although the method does not presuppose scale separation, it can represent solutions in this limiting case by taking sufficiently small coarse-scale elements.
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