Published in Computational Mechanics Vol. 52 (1), pp. 1-16, 2013
The simulation of the contact within shells, with all of its different facets, represents still an open challenge in Computational Mechanics. Despite the effort spent in the development of techniques for the simulation of general contact problems, an all-seasons algorithm applicable to complex shell contact problems is yet to be developed. This work focuses on the solution of the contact between thin shells by using a technique derived from the particle finite element method together with a rotation-free shell triangle. The key concept is to define a discretization of the contact domain (CD) by constructing a finite element mesh of four-noded tetrahedra that describes the potential contact volume. The problem is completed by using an assumed-strain approach to define an elastic contact strain over the CD.
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