Published in Computational Particle Mechanics Vol. 5 (3) , pp. 411-420, 2018
This paper extends to three dimensions (3D), the computational technique developed by the authors in 2D for predicting the onset and evolution of fracture in a finite element mesh in a simple manner based on combining the finite element method and the discrete element method (DEM) approach (Zárate and Oñate in Comput Part Mech 2(3):301–314, 2015). Once a crack is detected at an element edge, discrete elements are generated at the adjacent element vertexes and a simple DEM mechanism is considered in order to follow the evolution of the crack. The combination of the DEM with simple four-noded linear tetrahedron elements correctly captures the onset of fracture and its evolution, as shown in several 3D examples of application.