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Submitted to: International Journal of Mechanical Sciences

An enriched finite element algorithm for numerical

computation of contact friction problems
A.R. Khoei

and M. Nikbakht

Center of Excellence in Structural and Earthquake Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering,

Sharif University of Technology, P.O. Box. 11365-9313, Tehran, Iran

Abstract. In this paper, the extended finite element method is employed to model the presence of
discontinuities caused by frictional contact. The method is used in modeling strong discontinuity
within a standard finite element framework. In XFEM technique, the special functions are included
in standard FE method to simulate discontinuity without considering the boundary conditions in
meshing the domain. In this study, the classical finite element approximation is enriched by
applying additional terms to simulate the frictional behavior of contact between two bodies. These
terms, which are included for enrichment of nodal displacements, depend on the contact condition
between two surfaces. The partition of unity method is applied to discretize the contact area with
triangular sub-elements whose Gauss points are used for integration of the domain of elements.
Finally, numerical examples are presented to demonstrate the applicability of the XFEM in
modeling of frictional contact behavior.

Keywords: Contact friction, Extended FEM, Partition of unity, Theory of friction.

1. Introduction
The numerical modeling of engineering contact problems is one of the most difficult and
demanding tasks in computational mechanics. Frictional contact can be observed in many problems;
such as: crack propagation, metal forming operation, drilling pile etc. In metal forming operations
the required shape changes are obtained by either of forming process, such as pressing, hammering,
rolling or extruding the material between the tools which are much stiffer than shaped material.
Because of large difference between deformability of the tool and material, relative movements
occur in contact area. These relative movements produce the normal and tangential stresses, which
have important role on metal flow and may cause serious inhomogeneities in works products.
*

Corresponding author. Tel. +98-21-66005818; Fax: +98-21-66014828.

Therefore, it is not surprising that much attention has been given to both the experimental and
numerical research aspects of this complex problem.
From the finite element point of view the modeling of interface friction has been categorized into
three routes; the traction boundary condition, contact node algorithm, and interface element
technique. In the method of 'traction boundary condition', the frictional forces are appended to the
external force vector as a traction boundary force. In this technique, the contact requirements appear
in the variational formulation as constraints. The contact node algorithm is an iterative
implementation of the boundary conditions on velocity or displacement depending on the nodal
forces at the interface friction boundary. This method is a pointwise algorithm, which uses the
contact nodes as indications of the contact conditions. The interface element technique is an
alternative to contact node algorithm, which can be applied by implementation of thin elements
having very high aspect ratio. Early studies on contact problems were largely related to a linear
geometry and often involved node-to-node contacts when two boundaries come into contact
(Fracavilla and Zienkiewicz [1], Hughes et al. [2] and Beer [3]). Such a node-to-node model can
only be applied to problems in which relative sliding displacements of the two contact boundaries
are sufficiently small. Once significant non-linear contact deformations were introduced, methods
tended to switch to node-on-segment contact (Wriggers and Simo [4], Parisch [5], Papadopoulos
and Taylor [6] and Goncalves et al. [7]).
There are important links between the finite element contact problem and mathematical
programming techniques. Indeed, because the contact problems usually involve inequality
constraints (varying contact areas), the mathematics can be related to the method of variational
inequalities. Basically, two main constraint methods of solution have been employed in the finite
element solution of contact problems; the method of Lagrangian multipliers and the penalty
approach. In Lagrangian multipliers approach, the contact forces are taken as primary unknowns
and the non-penetration condition is enforced (Simo et al. [8], Chaudaray and Bathe [9] and Gallego
and Anza [10]). In penalty method, the penetration between two contacting boundaries is introduced
and the normal contact force is related to the penetration by a penalty parameter (Curnier and Alart
[11] and Peric and Owen [12]). The aim of this study is to present a model for simulation of
frictional contact problem using the extended finite element method based on the penalty approach.
The eXtended Finite Element Method (XFEM) is a numerical approach used to simulate the
discontinuity within the standard finite element framework. In this approach, the standard
displacement based approximation is enriched by incorporating discontinuous fields through a
partition of unity method (Melenk and Babuska [13]). The method was developed by Dolbow et al.
[14, 15] to model cracks, voids and inhomogeneities. This allows for the entire crack geometry to be
modeled independently of the mesh, and completely avoids the need to remesh as the crack grows.
A methodology that constructs the enriched approximation based on the interaction of the
discontinuous geometric features with the mesh was developed by Daux et al. [16] in modeling
crack discontinuities. A technique for modeling arbitrary discontinuities in finite elements was
presented by Belytschko et al. [17]. In this method, the discontinuous approximation was
constructed in terms of a signed distance functions and the level sets were used to update the

position of the discontinuities. An algorithm which couples the level set method with the extended
finite element method was proposed by Stolarska et al. [18]. They applied a discontinuous function
based on the Heaviside step function in modeling two-dimensional linear elastic crack-tip
displacement fields. Recently, a numerical technique was developed by Sukumar et al. [19] for
three-dimensional fatigue crack growth simulations. This technique couples the extended finite
element method to the fast marching method using the partition of unity method.
In the present paper, an extended finite element method (XFEM) is developed to simulate the
frictional behavior of contact problems. The classical finite element approximation is enriched by
employing additional terms based on the Heaviside step function. These terms depend on the
contact conditions between two surfaces and model the stress-strain relationship in contact area. As
the contact region has discontinuities in domain, special techniques are implemented in the XFEM.
The partition of unity method (PUM) is applied to discretize the contact area with triangular subelements whose Gauss points are used for integration of the domain of elements. The conditions
that describe frictional contact are formulated as a non-smooth constitutive law on the interface of
contact and the iterative scheme is implemented to solve the nonlinear boundary value problem.
Finally, numerical examples are presented to demonstrate the applicability of the extended finite
element method in modeling of frictional contact behavior.

2. Continuum model of friction

The objective of the mathematical theory of friction is to provide a theoretical description of motion
at the interface of bodies in contact. The plasticity theory of friction can be achieved by an analogy
between plastic and frictional phenomena. In order to formulate such a theory of friction several
requirements have to be considered (Curnier [20], Rodic and Owen [21] and Peric and Owen [12]).
These requirements, which are similar to the requirements considered in the theory of elastoplasticity, are as follows;
i) Stick (or adhesion) law; a mathematical description of the stress state under sticking (elastic)
conditions,
ii) Stick-slip law; a theoretical description of the relationship between stress and stick-slip (elastoplastic) conditions,
iii) Wear and tear rule; a hardening and softening rule during sliding,
iv) Slip criterion; a yield criterion indicating the stress level at which relative slip motion occurs,
v) Slip rule; a flow rule indicating the relationship between stress and slip motion.
Consider two bodies, a master (target) and a slave body, as shown in Figure 1, with initial
configurations denoted by S and T . The relative displacement from the point x on the contact
surface of the slave body to the point y on the contact surface of the target may be defined as
g N ( x , y ) = { ( x) (y )} N

on

( C ) = ( S ) I (T )

(1)

where g N is the gap between the two bodies, (x) and (y ) are the configuration mapping of the
slave and target bodies, ( S ) and (T ) are the slave and target body surfaces respectively,
( C ) denotes a surface where contact between the two bodies occurs and N is the unit outward
normal vector on the target surface. During the contact and sliding of the bodies, we define p N and
pT as the normal and tangential load acting on the point x , respectively. The contact conditions
may be expressed in the standard Kuhn-Tucker form as
gN 0

pN 0

pN g N = 0

(2)

which is best suited for a variational formulation. Consider that there is no gap between the two
bodies in the sliding contact problem (Figure 1), the normal displacement is assumed to be zero and
a tangential displacement is only considered, which consists of stick and slip decompositions and is
in principle the same as the decomposition of elastic and plastic behavior. Thus, the decomposition
of the tangential displacement at the contact surface can be given as

uT = uTe + uTp

(3)

where u T is the tangential part of the displacement described by uT = (I N N) u and, uTe and u Tp
are the elastic and plastic components of tangential displacement.
In relation (2), the kinetic constraint of impenetrability of two bodies can be satisfied as well as
the static condition of compressive normal load. To resolve the resulting unilateral contact problem
the Lagrange multiplier method, or the penalty method, are typically used. In the case of the
Lagrange multiplier method, however, a large number of additional unknown variables need to be
included owing to incorporation of p N as new variables. On the contrary, the penalty method needs
no additional variable, because the impenetrability condition is approximately satisfied (by
constraint via embedding very stiff springs on the contact surface). Consequently, the normal load
p N can be obtained from multiplication of the penalty factor k N and the displacement in the normal
direction u N . Similarly, the stick (or elastic) component of the tangential load may be obtained by
multiplying the penalty factor kT and elastic part of the displacement in the tangential direction uTe .
The penalty factors k N and kT can be considered as being the normal stiffness constant and shear
stiffness constant, respectively. Constitutive laws for the contact loads can now be summarized as

( )u
= (D ) u

p N = Def

pT

e
f T

(4)
(5)

where (D ef )N and (Def )T are the normal and tangential parts of the elastic modulus tensor for friction
defined as

(D )
(D )

e
f N

= k N (N N )

(6)

e
f T

= kT (I N N )

(7)

In order to perform the additive decomposition of displacement into adherence and slip, a slip
criterion must be introduced. To this end the slip surface F f is postulated in the contact stress space
on which slip will occur. The slip criterion is expressed based on the Coulomb law as
F f (p, w) = p T f ( p N , w) p N c f

= 0

< 0

slip (or grap )

(8)

where c f denotes the cohesion between two bodies and the Coulomb friction coefficient is defined
as f = tan f , with f denoting the tool friction angle.
The direction of slip is governed by an appropriate slip rule, which can be derived from the
gradient of a convex potential Z . If the potential Z is replaced by the slip criterion F f , the slip rule
becomes associated. Although in plasticity the flow rules associated with the standard criteria prove
realistic for relatively large classes of materials, the slip rule associated to the usual friction criterion
(8) is not acceptable. Indeed, the relative movement at the interface derived from the associated
potential Z = F f results in the creation of gaps (separation). Thus, in order to avoid the slave body
separation from the contacting surface, a non-associated flow rule is typically adopted (Curnier
[20]). Hence, the slip potential Z is introduced as a cylinder with radius PT for isotropic frictional
contact and the slip direction is defined as the outward normal to the slip potential Z .
Consequently, the plastic part of the tangential displacement u Tp , in equation (3), can be defined by
the definition of the slip rule as
duTp = d

Z
= dT
pT

(9)

where d is a constant expressing the collinearity of the slip increment with the outward normal to
the potential Z , and T =

pT
pT

is the unit tangential vector.

The constitutive model for the contact problem is conveniently described by equations (29).
Following the standard arguments of elasto-plasticity, the continuum tangent tensor for the contact
problem with non-linear frictional evolution can be derived using the consistency condition as
(Khoei [22])
F (p, w)
F f (p, w)
F (p, w)
d p N + f

dw = 0
dpT + f
w

pT
p N

(10)

substituting d into the constitutive law, a linearized equation is obtained in the incremental form
as
dp = D epf du

where the continuum tangent tensor D epf is

(11)

D epf = k N (N N ) kT (I N N T T )
kT

1 f ( p N , w)
pN

kT
kN

where = 1 +

f ( p N , w)
kT

f
w

(T T )

f
1
f ( p N , w) + p N

pN

2 f
p N
w

(12)

(T N )

In equation (12), the first term of the continuum tangent tensor D epf indicates the stiffness in the
normal direction to the contact surface. The second term denotes the adhesion stiffness
perpendicular to the sliding direction on the contact surface. The third and forth terms indicate the
adhesion and slip stiffness with hardening, or softening, in the sliding direction, respectively. In the
case of frictional slip without hardening, or softening, equation (12) can be simplified as
D epf = k N (N N ) kT (I N N T T ) f k N (T N )

(13)

Evidently, the non-associative slip rule (9) results in non-symmetry of the slip modulus tensor,
which is defined by (13) under the conditions of frictional slip.

3. The extended finite element method

The enriched finite element methods are powerful and accurate approaches to model discontinuities
without considering their geometries. In these methods, the discontinuities are not considered in
mesh generation operation and special functions which depend on the nature of discontinuity are
included into finite element approximation. One of these approaches is extended finite element
method, which has been extensively employed in numerical modeling of crack. The aim of this
method is to simulate the discontinuity with minimum enrichment. In XFEM, the external
boundaries are only consideration in mesh generation operation and internal boundaries, such as
cracks, voids or contact surfaces, have no effect on mesh configurations. This method has proper
applications in problems with moving discontinuities, such as consolidation, phase changing, crack
propagation, and shear banding.
In order to introduce the concept of discontinuous enrichment, consider that c be a contact
surface between two bodies in domain , as shown in Figure 2(a). We are interested in the
construction of a finite element approximation to the field u which can be discontinuous along
contact surface c . The traditional approach is to generate the mesh to conform to the line of
contact surface as shown in Figure 2(b), in which the element edges align with c , and implement
the contact elements in the line of contact surface. While this strategy certainly creates a

discontinuity in the approximation, it is cumbersome if the line c evolves in time, or if several

different configurations for c are to be considered. In this study, we intend to model the
discontinuity along contact surface c with extrinsic enrichment, in which the uniform mesh of
Figure 2(c) is capable of modeling the contact surface in u when the circled nodes are enriched
with functions which are discontinuous across c .
The standard FE approximation can be enriched with additional functions by using the notion of
partition of unity (Melenk and Babuska [13]). The enriched approximation in modeling of contact
surface c can be expressed in following form
u h ( x) =

N ( x) u + N
i

j ( x)

f ( x) a j

for ni n and n j n g

(14)

The first term of above equation denotes the classical finite element approximation and the second
term indicates the enrichment function considered in XFEM. In this equation, u i is the classical
nodal displacement, a j the nodal degrees of freedom corresponding to the enrichment functions,
f ( x ) the enrichment function, and N ( x ) the standard shape function. In equation (14), n is the set
of all nodal points of domain, and n g the set of nodes of elements located on discontinuity, i.e.

n g = n j : n j n , j I c 0

(15)

In the above equation, j = supp(n j ) is the support of the nodal shape function N j ( x ) , which
consists of the union of all elements with n j as one of its vertices, or in other words the union of
elements in which N j ( x ) is non-zero.
It must be noted that the enrichment varies from node to node and many nodes require no
enrichment, which is an application of the partition of unity concept. Different techniques may be
used for the enrichment function; these functions are related to the type of discontinuity and its
influences on the form of solution. These techniques are based on the signed distance function,
branch function, Heaviside jump function, level set function, and etc.
The signed distance function is applicable to crack problem, which is discontinuous across the
crack line (Belytschko et al. [17]). The function can be viewed as an enrichment with a windowed
step function, where N ( x ) is the window function. The window function localizes the enrichment
so that the discrete equations will be sparse. For cracks which are not straight, a mapping is required
to align the near-tip discontinuities with the crack edges. In this case, a near-tip function, or branch
function, can be constructed in terms of the distance function, which enables the discontinuity to be
curved or piecewise linear (Dolbow et al. [15]). This function spans the near-tip asymptotic solution
for a crack, and gives very good accuracy for these problems. The level set method is a numerical
scheme developed by Sethian [23] for tracking the motion of interfaces. In this technique, the
interface is represented as the zero level set of a function of one higher dimension. Recently, the
technique of fast marching method, which was first introduced by Sethian [24], was coupled with
XFEM to model crack growth (Sukumar et al. [19] and Chopp and Sukumar [25]). The method

computes the crossing time map for a monotonically advancing front in an arbitrary number of
spatial dimensions.

4. Modeling frictional contact with the X-FEM

Numerical simulation of frictional contact in FEM can be achieved by employing contact elements.
Although these elements have wide application in simulation of contact problems, the modeling of
evolving contact surfaces with the finite element method is cumbersome due to the need to update
the mesh topology to match the geometry of the contact surface, and implement those elements
between two different bodies (Figure 2-b). The extended finite element method alleviates much of
the burden associated with mesh generation by not requiring the finite element mesh to conform to
contact surfaces, and in addition, provides a seamless means to use higher-order elements or special
finite elements without significant changes in the formulation. The essence of X-FEM lies in subdividing a model problem into two distinct parts; mesh generation for the geometric domain in
which the contact surface is not included, and enriching the finite element approximation by
additional functions that model the geometric of contact surface (Figure 2-c).
Consider that c be a contact surface between two bodies in domain with n denoting the
normal vector to c . The displacement and traction are then introduced on the contact surface by u
and t . In order to obtain an appropriate form that is suitable for numerical treatment of contact
behavior, the weak form of equilibrium equation of elasto-plasticity can be written as

: (u) d =

b u d +

t u d +

t u d

(16)

in which the last term represents the concept of energy, dissipated in the relative motion of the
contact surface. It is important that the displacement field of domain and the displacement on
contact surface be kinematically admissible. The interfacial constitutive law on the contact surface
is expressed by equation (8) that indicates the stress level at which relative slip motion occurs. The
goal is to obtain the stress and displacement fields on the contact surface which satisfy the
equilibrium and consistency conditions.
For an arbitrary contact displacement field, equation (14) can be rewritten as
u h ( x) =

N ( x) u + N
i

j ( x)H ( x) a j

for ni n and n j n g

(17)

where H ( x ) is the Heaviside jump function. In above relation, the contact surface is considered to
be a curve parameterized by the curvilinear coordinate s , as shown in Figure 3. Considering a point
x in the domain, we denote x * the closest point to x on the contact surface. At point x * , we
construct the tangential and normal vectors to the curve, e s and en , with the orientation of e n taken
such that e s e n = e z . The Heaviside jump function H ( x ) is then given by the sign of the scalar

product ( x x * ) en , in which the function H ( x ) takes the value of +1 above the contact surface,
and 1 below the contact surface, i.e.
+ 1
H ( x) =
1

if ( x x * ) e n 0

(18)

otherwise

On substituting the trial function of equation (17) into the weak form of equilibrium equation of
elasto-plasticity (16), and using the arbitrariness of nodal variations, the discrete system of
equations can be obtained as K d = f , where d is the vector of unknowns of u i and a j at the nodal
points, and K and f are the global stiffness matrix and external force vector, defined as
K uu
K ij = ijau
K ij

K ua
ij
,
aa
K ij

f i = {f iu

f ia }T

(19)

where
K
ij =
f i =

(Bi )T Dep (B j ) d

N i t d +
e

N i b d
e

( , = u , a)
( = u , a )

(20)

where Dep is the elasto-plastic constitutive matrix. In equation (20), N i N i is for a finite element
displacement degree of freedom, and N i N i H for an enriched degree of freedom. The matrices
Bi and B j include the shape function derivatives defined as
B ui

B ia

Ni, x

= 0
N i, y

N i, y
N i , x

( N i H ), x

= 0
( N i H ) , y

(21)

( N i H ), y
( N i H ) , x

For the elements cut by the contact surface, the standard Gauss quadrature points are insufficient
for numerical integration, and may not adequately integrate the discontinuous field. If the
integration of the discontinuous enrichment is indistinguishable from that of a constant function, the
system of equations may be rank deficient. Thus, it is necessary to modify the element quadrature
points to accurately evaluate the contribution to the weak form for both sides of the contact surface.
In what follows, we present the modifications made to the numerical integration scheme for
elements cut by a contact surface, which was applied by Daux et al. [16] in modeling of cracks with
multiple branches.
The discrete weak form is normally constructed with a loop over all elements, as the domain is
approximated by

= U e

(22)

e =1

where m is the number of elements and e is the element sub-domain. For elements located on
contact surface, an appropriate procedure is performed. For those elements, we divide the element
into triangular sub-domains s with boundaries aligned with the contact surface geometry, i.e.,
ms

e = U s

(23)

s =1

where ms denotes the number of sub-polygons of the element. The Gauss points of sub-triangles are
used for numerical integration across the contact surface, as shown in Figure 4. Different algorithms
may be applied to generate these sub-polygons, based on sub-triangles and sub-quadratics. In this
study, sub-triangles are implemented for numerical integration. It is essential to mention that these
sub-polygons only generated for numerical integration and no new degrees of freedom are added to
system. In the construction of the matrix equations, the element loop is replaced by a loop over the
sub-triangles for those elements cut by the contact surface.

4.1. Friction tangent matrix

Evaluation of the stiffness matrices for the elements located on contact surface requires linearization
of the governing equations for the frictional contact problem. Strict mathematical linearization
results in non-symmetric constitutive matrices D epf , defined in equation (13), due to the nonassociated slip rules employed, i.e.
D
Depf = 11
D21

D12
D22

(24)

In order to preserve the symmetry of the numerical formulation the off-diagonal term in D epf , which
represents the coupling between the normal and tangential stresses at the interface, is neglected, so
that its effect is brought into the formulation via residual 'pseudo loads'. In this way, the problem is
artificially decomposed into a pure contact in the normal direction and frictional resistance in the
tangential direction, which are linearized separately as
G f
Depf =
0

E f

(25)

In an incremental manner, the stress components are related to the strains through the material
property matrix D epf by = Depf . The stress vector at each Gauss point located in specified
distance from both sides of contact surface, i.e. the contact bond, is assumed to have only two
components; the normal stress n and shear stress , where = { , n }T and = { , n }T .
The material property matrix D epf needs to capture the details of the physical processes taking place
such as asperity contact, adhesion and the consequent 'stick-slip' behavior. Since there is no volume

change due to shearing strains, the shear and normal components of deformation are therefore
uncoupled.
The normal strains are measured only to monitor the normal stress by means of the linear
equation, i.e. n = E f n , where E f is chosen as an arbitrary large number for numerical
convenience. Note that only compressive normal stresses are allowed, i.e. n 0 . Since the
tangential micro-shifts due to adherence are negligible in comparison to the micro-slips due to
sliding, the adherence does not require a very precise numerical treatment. The incremental form of
the shear stress-strain relationship under adherence is defined as = G A , where G A is
proportional to the stick shear modulus of contact surface. The frictional shear force, however, is
limited by the slip criterion. The shear stress-strain relationship is presented in Figure 5, where
T = f n is considered to be a known state variable [22]. The frictional non-linearity is modeled
by an appropriate variation of G f which can be obtained from the shear stress-strain ( )
relationship for the stick and slip region (Figure 5). It must be noted that the shear modulus G f is
divided into two components, the first where the body has not moved but there is a rapid buildup in
load. Under this condition, a stick shear modulus G f = G A is derived directly from the slope of the
curve. On commencement of movement, the slip shear modulus condition G f = GB is now
appropriate and this is derived similarly.
Finally, the stiffness matrix of equation (20) can be evaluated at each Gauss point located on
contact bond by
(K f )
ij =

(Bi )T D epf (B j ) d

( , = u , a )

(26)

4.2. Computational algorithm

In order to construct the integrals on the contact surface, it is necessary to implement the material
property matrix D epf at the Gauss points located on contact bond. In traditional finite element
discretization, the integrals are evaluated using the Gauss integration points of contact elements.
Here, since the contact surface and mesh geometry are independent, we replace equation (17) by
(23) employing the material property matrix defined in (22) at the Gauss integration points located
on contact bond.
According to numerical procedures described in preceding sections, a computational algorithm is
performed based on the Newton-Raphson method. For iteration i within the time step t
( t = t n +1 t n ) and for each active Gauss point located on contact bond, the following algorithm is
set up;
a) Evaluate the stiffness matrix of element K if cut by the contact surface using the appropriate
shear modulus G f of the Gauss point (In the first iteration of first time step, set G f = GA . In
subsequent iterations, G f is calculated from stage (f)),
b) Solve the global system of equations K i d ui = d f i ,

c) Compute the increment of nodal displacement as u i = u i 1 + d u i , where d u 0 = 0 ,

d) Evaluate the increment of strain in +1 and total strain in +1= n + in +1 ,
e) Calculate the stress at the normal direction according to n = E f n and evaluate T = f n at
tn +1 (Note that only non-positive values of normal stress are allowed),
f) Evaluate the frictional shear stress and G f for the next iteration, i.e.
ni +1 = n + G A ni +1

and

G f = GA

(27)

=T

Gf =

(28)

h) Evaluate the out of balance, or residual forces.

Computational steps (a) to (h) are repeated until the norm of residual forces and maximum
residual are both less than prescribed tolerances.

5. Numerical simulation results

In order to illustrate the accuracy and versatility of the extended finite element method in frictional
contact problem, several numerical examples, including: sliding of two bodies, pull-out of pile,
torsion of steel rod in concrete, and compaction process are presented. The examples are solved
using both FEM and XFEM techniques, and the results are compared.

5.1. Sliding of two bodies

In the first example, the contact friction behavior between two elastic bodies which are sliding
relative to each other is investigated, as shown in Figure 6. When the top block is sliding over the
surface of bottom block, the stick-slip motion can be observed due to friction. This motion is
characterized by a periodic switching between sticking and slipping. In this study, an extended
finite element approach is employed to simulate the contact friction behavior between two sliding
surfaces. The problem statement for this example is shown in Figure 6. The block is constrained at
the bottom while the uniform horizontal and vertical loadings of wx = 2.5 10 3 Kg m and
w y = 1 10 4 Kg m are imposed at the top. The blocks are assumed to be elastic with the Youngs
modulus of 2 1010 Kg m 2 and Poissons coefficient of 0.3. The contact behavior between two
blocks is modeled by the Coulomb friction law with c f = 0 and f = 0.3 .
Two meshes corresponding to the FEM and XFEM techniques are considered, as shown in
Figure 7. In FEM mesh, the finite elements are combined with the interface elements along the
contact surface. While in XFEM mesh, the contact surface passes through the center of elements in

which the nodal points of relevant elements are enriched with the Heaviside jump function. For
those elements which are intersected by the contact surface, the concept of the partition of unity is
used to generate the sub-triangles. The Gauss points of sub-triangles are then employed to evaluate
the tangent stiffness matrix of friction. The numerical simulation is performed using 200 six-noded
triangular elements in FEM mesh and 361 four-noded rectangular elements in XFEM mesh. The
convergence tolerance is set to 10 4 and the analysis was performed using 20 increments.
In Figures 8(a)-(d), the distribution of shear stress contours at two different values of shear
modulus, i.e. G f = 1 108 and 1 1010 Kg m 2 are presented for both XFEM and FEM techniques.
Remarkable agreements can be observed between two different methods. Figure 9 presents the
variation of horizontal displacement of top edge with the shear modulus of contact surface using
two different approaches. A convergence study is conducted in Figure 10 using various values of
contact bond width, i.e. the region whose Gauss points have similar property as contact surface. In
this figure, the variation of uniform shear loading with horizontal displacement of top edge is
plotted at three values of contact bond width, i.e. 0.5, 0.7, 1.0. It can be observed from the figure
that the contact bond width of 1.0 gives a remarkable improvement in accuracy of horizontal
sliding.

5.2. Pull-out of pile

The second example demonstrates the accuracy of XFEM technique in numerical simulation of pile
foundation. Pile foundations are widely used in highway construction, buildings and other
structures. Accurate and reliable determination of pile capacity is very important for proper design,
construction and estimation of the cost of these foundations. The capacity of pile is strongly
dependent on frictional interaction between soil and pile. When the pile is subjected to gradually
increasing load, slip is induced at the interface and propagated from top to bottom of the pile. In this
example, the pull-out of pile is modeled by XFEM technique, as shown in Figure 11. The
simulation was performed by Lei [26] using the FE method and employing interface element to
present the performance of integration schemes in evaluation of the interpolation function matrix.
The material properties chosen for the concrete pile are; Ec = 2 109 Kg m 2 , = 0.3 and
= 2.5 103 Kg m 3 . The pile is placed in clay soil with material properties of E s = 2 108 Kg m 2 ,
= 0.25 and = 2 103 Kg m 3 . The contact friction behavior between pile and soil is modeled by
the Mohr-Coulomb law with c f = 0.5 Kg cm 2 , f = 0.58 and the maximum tensile stress of
tmax = 30 Kg cm 2 . The soil is restrained at the bottom and right hand edges, and a tension force of
q = 5 10 4 Kg m is imposed on the upper nodes of the pile. On the virtue of symmetry, the pile is
analyzed for half of space, as shown in Figure 12. A uniform FE mesh of four-noded rectangular
elements of 20 x 20 is considered in order to model the contact surface with the enriched nodal
points shown in this figure. The convergence tolerance is set to 10 4 and the computation was
carried out using 100 increments. For elements located on contact surface, the sub-triangles are
generated based on the concept of the partition of unity to construct the tangent stiffness matrix of
friction at the integration points located on contact bond. The shear stress distribution of pile along

the contact surface due to pull-out force is presented in Figure 13(a). This result can be compared
with those obtained by Lei [26] using the interface element technique in Figure 13(b).

5.3. Concrete reinforced with steel under torsion

The next example is chosen to present the capabilities of XFEM technique in modeling of contact
behavior between steel rod and concrete. The concrete reinforced with steel is an alternative
reinforcement for concrete structures, particularly in environments capable of chemical and
electromagnetic corrosion. Simulation of contact phenomenon results in better application of the
steel rods in construction of modern concrete structures. The bond behavior is important in
perception of the nature of local failures and the amount of energy dissipation in the structural
elements. In this example, a numerical simulation of contact friction of steel rod with concrete is
presented using FEM and XFEM techniques. A steel rod with a radius of 0.4 m is subjected to a
tortional moment of 0.96 ton.m at the center of a square concrete of 2 x 2 m, as shown in Figure
14. The contact behavior between rod and concrete is modeled by the Coulomb friction law with
c f = 0 and f = 10 . The material properties chosen are; Ec = 2 109 Kg m 2 and Es = 2 1010 Kg m 2 .
The numerical simulation is carried out using 192 quadrilateral bilinear elements in FEM mesh and
400 four-noded rectangular elements in XFEM mesh. The convergence tolerance is set to 10 4 .
In order to assess the accuracy of the use of XFEM technique for modeling steel rod with
concrete, we compare the finite element solution employing contact element formulation to that
obtained by the new technique. Figure 15 presents the corresponding meshes to the FEM and
XFEM analyses. In XFEM, the weak form is integrated appropriately by partitioning the elements
that are intersected by the contact surface. For the Gauss points located on contact bond, the
integrals are evaluated using the friction material property matrix. In Figures 16(a)-(f), the stress
distribution contours of x , y and t xy on a cross section subjected to torsion are presented for both
XFEM and FEM techniques. Remarkable agreements can be observed between two different
methods. Also plotted in Figures 17(a)-(d) are the horizontal and vertical displacements contours for
both XFEM and FEM techniques. These results demonstrate that how the XFEM technique can be
efficiently used to model the contact friction behavior between steel rod and concrete.

5.4. Compaction process

Compaction process considers the methods of producing commercial products from metal powders
by pressure. The influence of powder-tool friction on the mechanical properties of the final product
is significant in pressing metal powders. Friction between the powder and tool affects the density
distribution in the compact. A non-homogeneous density distribution induces cracks and residual
stresses during compaction and sintering which is detrimental to the strength of the component.
Friction also affects the final density, pressing and ejection forces and die wear. Thus, it is
important to predict the behavior of the powder-tool friction. In traditional approach, the finite
element formulation is characterized by the use of interface elements in which the plasticity theory
of friction is incorporated to simulate sliding resistance at the powder-tool interface (Khoei and
Lewis [27]). In the present study, we illustrate the performance of XFEM technique in modeling

powder-die friction. Due to large movements of punches, the updated Lagrangian description is
incorporated into the XFEM formulation.
The initial geometry of uncompacted powder in its position before compaction is presented in
Figure 18, where h1 = 100 mm , h2 = 50 mm , w1 = 300 mm and w2 = 30 mm . The material properties
chosen for powder are E = 2 105 Kg m 2 and = 0.3 . The rigid die-wall is assumed to be elastic
with the Youngs modulus of 2 1010 Kg m 2 and Poissons coefficient of 0.3. The powder-tool
friction is modeled by the Coulomb law with c f = 0 and f = 0.3 . On the virtue of symmetry, the
process is modeled for half of specimen, as shown in Figure 19. In order to present the accuracy of
the XFEM technique, a comparison is performed with the finite element solution for a mesh with
approximately the same number of unknowns. The numerical simulation is performed using 240
six-noded triangular elements in FEM mesh and 400 four-noded rectangular elements in XFEM
mesh. The convergence tolerance is set to 10 4 and the analysis was carried out using 20
increments.
The final deformed mesh for both techniques is presented in Figure 20 at the top punch
movement of 34 mm . In Figures 21(a)-(d), the horizontal and vertical displacements contours are
presented for both XFEM and FEM approaches. Also plotted in Figures 22(a)-(f) are the stress
distribution contours of x , y and t xy for two different techniques. Remarkable agreements can be
observed between two different methods. The performance of XFEM in the case of large sliding is
presented in Figure 23 by a detailed plot of traction on the contact surface at the volume reduction
of 34 percents. This figure clearly presents the variation of the shear and normal stresses on the
surface of rigid die-wall with the distance from bottom on the contact surface between the die and
powder. As can be observed, the values of shear and normal stresses are approximately zero on the
portion of the boundary that is free at the top punch movement of 34 mm , in which the two bodies
have already slide past each other. The evolution of top punch vertical reaction force with its
vertical displacement is depicted in Figure 24(a). Complete agreements can be observed between
two methods. It must be noted that on using the finite element simulation, no further advance of the
punch movement is obtained, however the volume reduction of 90 percents can be observed with
the same computational algorithm in XFEM technique, as plotted in Figure 24(b). This example
adequately presents the applicability of XFEM technique in modeling of powder-tool friction in
compaction pressing of powder.

6. Conclusion
In the present paper, a method was developed based on the extended finite element method in
modeling the discontinuity caused by frictional contact. The classical finite element approximation
was enriched by employing additional terms based on the Heaviside step function. The partition of
unity method was applied to discretize the contact area with triangular sub-elements whose Gauss
points were used for integration of the domain of elements. For the elements cut by contact surface,
the integration of stiffness matrix was performed by employing the material property matrix of
contact surface at the integration points located on contact bond. The frictional contact behavior was

formulated by a non-smooth constitutive law on the interface of contact and the iterative scheme
was implemented to resolve the nonlinear boundary value problem. Finally, numerical examples
were presented to demonstrate the accuracy and capability of the XFEM in modeling the frictional
contact behavior. It is shown how the XFEM technique can be effectively used to model 2D contact
problems. In a later work, the implementation of XFEM technique will be presented in modeling 3D
contact problems.

Acknowledgement
Parts of this research were conducted by the first author on his sabbatical leave at the Laboratorie de
Mecanique des Solides, Ecole Polytechnique, France (2002). The author would like to appreciate the
collaboration and guidance of Professor Claude Stolz.

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16. C. Daux, N. Moes, J. Dolbow, N. Sukumar and T. Belytschko, Arbitrary branched and intersecting
cracks with the extended finite element method, Int. J. Num. Meth. Eng., 48 (2000) 17411760.
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Figure Legend:
Figure 1.

Figure 2.

Modeling of contact surface between two bodies a) Problem definition, b) The FE

mesh which conforms to the geometry of contact together with employed contact
elements, c) A uniform mesh in which the circled nodes have additional degrees of
freedom and enrichment functions

Figure 3.

Illustration of normal and tangential coordinates for a contact surface in the case of
jump function H ( x ) = 1 ; x * is the closest point to x on the contact surface

Figure 4.

Figure 5.

Figure 6.

Figure 7.

Sliding of two bodies, a) The FEM mesh, b) The XFEM mesh

Figure 8.

Sliding of two bodies; The shear stress contours corresponding to; a) The FEM mesh
with G f = 1 1010 , b) The XFEM mesh with G f = 1 1010 , c) The FEM mesh with
G f = 1 108 , d) The XFEM mesh with G f = 1 108

Figure 9.

Sliding of two bodies; The variation of horizontal displacement of top edge with the
shear modulus of contact surface using the FEM and XFEM techniques

Figure 10.

Sliding of two bodies; The variation of uniform shear loading with horizontal
displacement of top edge at three values of contact bond width

Figure 11.

Figure 12.

The pull-out of pile; The XFEM mesh

Figure 13.

The pull-out of pile; The shear stress distribution of pile along the contact surface; a)
The XFEM model, b) Lei [24]

Figure 14.

Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; Problem statement

Figure 15.

Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; a) The FEM mesh, b) The XFEM mesh

Figure 16.

Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; a) The stress x contour using FEM analysis, b)
The stress x contour using XFEM analysis, c) The stress y contour using FEM
analysis, d) The stress y contour using XFEM analysis, e) The shear stress xy
contour using FEM analysis, f) The shear stress xy contour using XFEM analysis

Figure 17.

Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; a) The horizontal displacement contour using
FEM analysis, b) The horizontal displacement contour using XFEM analysis, c) The
vertical displacement contour using FEM analysis, d) The vertical displacement
contour using XFEM analysis

Figure 18.

Figure 19.

Figure 20.

Figure 21.

The compaction process; a) The horizontal displacement contour using FEM

analysis, b) The horizontal displacement contour using XFEM analysis, c) The
vertical displacement contour using FEM analysis, d) The vertical displacement
contour using XFEM analysis

Figure 22.

The compaction process; a) The stress x contour using FEM analysis, b) The stress
x contour using XFEM analysis, c) The stress y contour using FEM analysis, d)
The stress y contour using XFEM analysis, e) The shear stress xy contour using
FEM analysis, f) The shear stress xy contour using XFEM analysis

Figure 23.

The compaction process; The variation of the shear and normal stresses on the
surface of rigid die-wall with the distance from bottom of the contact surface at the
top punch movement of 34 mm using the XFEM technique

Figure 24.

The compaction process; The evolution of top punch vertical reaction force with its
vertical displacement; a) A comparison between two different approaches at the top
punch movement of 34 mm , b) The XFEM technique at the top punch movement of
90 mm

Figure 1. Definition of contact between two bodies

(a)

(b)

(c)
Figure 2. Modeling of contact surface between two bodies a) Problem definition, b) The FE mesh
which conforms to the geometry of contact together with employed contact elements, c) A uniform
mesh in which the circled nodes have additional degrees of freedom and enrichment functions

Figure 3. Illustration of normal and tangential coordinates for a contact surface in the case of jump
function H ( x ) = 1 ; x * is the closest point to x on the contact surface

Figure 4. The sub-triangles associated with elements cut by contact surface in XFEM

Figure 6. Sliding of two bodies; Problem statement

(a)

(b)

Figure 7. Sliding of two bodies, a) The FEM mesh, b) The XFEM mesh

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

Figure 8. Sliding of two bodies; The shear stress contours corresponding to; a) The FEM mesh with
G f = 1 1010 , b) The XFEM mesh with G f = 1 1010 , c) The FEM mesh with G f = 1 108 , d) The
XFEM mesh with G f = 1 108

Displacement (Cm)

1.8

Finite Element Method

EXtended Finite Element Method

1.6
1.4
1.2
1
0.8
1.0E+10
1e6'

1.0E+09
1e5'

1.0E+08
1e4'

Shear modulus of contact surfaces (Kg/m2)

Figure 9. Sliding of two bodies; The variation of horizontal displacement of top edge with the shear
modulus of contact surface using the FEM and XFEM techniques

2500
XFEM (CBW = 0.5)
XFEM (CBW = 0.7)
XFEM (CBW = 1.0)
FEM

2000

1500

1000

500

0.2

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.2

Horizontal Displacement (cm)

Figure 10. Sliding of two bodies; The variation of uniform shear loading with horizontal
displacement of top edge at three values of contact bond width

Figure 12. The pull-out of pile; The XFEM mesh

(a)

(b)

Figure 13. The pull-out of pile; The shear stress distribution of pile along the contact surface;
a) The XFEM model, b) Lei [24]

Figure 14. Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; Problem statement

(a)

(b)

Figure 15. Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; a) The FEM mesh, b) The XFEM mesh

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e)

(f)

Figure 16. Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; a) The stress x contour using FEM analysis, b) The
stress x contour using XFEM analysis, c) The stress y contour using FEM analysis, d) The
stress y contour using XFEM analysis, e) The shear stress xy contour using FEM analysis, f) The
shear stress xy contour using XFEM analysis

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

Figure 17. Torsion of FRP rod with concrete; a) The horizontal displacement contour using FEM
analysis, b) The horizontal displacement contour using XFEM analysis, c) The vertical
displacement contour using FEM analysis, d) The vertical displacement contour using XFEM
analysis

Figure 18. The compaction process; Problem description

(a)

(b)
Figure 19. The compaction process; a) Initial FEM mesh, b) Initial XFEM mesh

(a)

(b)
Figure 20. The compaction process; a) Deformed FEM mesh, b) Deformed XFEM mesh

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)
Figure 21. The compaction process; a) The horizontal displacement contour using FEM analysis, b)
The horizontal displacement contour using XFEM analysis, c) The vertical displacement contour
using FEM analysis, d) The vertical displacement contour using XFEM analysis

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e)

(f)

Figure 22. The compaction process; a) The stress x contour using FEM analysis, b) The stress x
contour using XFEM analysis, c) The stress y contour using FEM analysis, d) The stress y
contour using XFEM analysis, e) The shear stress xy contour using FEM analysis, f) The shear
stress xy contour using XFEM analysis

100

-5000

80
Normal stress
60

40
Shear stress
20

5000

15000

25000

35000

45000

55000

Stress on the surface of rigid die-wall

Figure 23. The compaction process; The variation of the shear and normal stresses on the surface of
rigid die-wall with the distance from bottom of the contact surface at the top punch movement of
34 mm using the XFEM technique

12

8
6
4
2
0
0.00
0.0

(a)

10

0.30
0.6

0.60
1.2

0.90
1.8

1.20
2.4

1.50
3.0

1.80
3.6

45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0

(b)

0
0.0

0.01
2.0

0.02
4.0

0.03
6.0

0.04
8.0

0.05
10.0

Vertical displacement (cm)

Figure 24. The compaction process; The evolution of top punch vertical reaction force with its
vertical displacement; a) A comparison between two different approaches at the top punch
movement of 34 mm , b) The XFEM technique at the top punch movement of 90 mm