An evaluation of the advantages and limitations in simulating indentation cracking with cohesive zone finite elements Academic Article uri icon


  • A cohesive zone model is applied to a finite element (FE) scheme to simulate indentation cracking in brittle materials. Limitations of using the cohesive zone model to study indentation cracking are determined from simulations of a standard fracture toughness specimen and a two-dimensional indentation cracking problem wherein the morphology of the crack and the geometry of the indenter are simplified. It is found that the principles of linear-elastic fracture mechanics can be applied when indentation cracks are long in comparison to the size of the cohesive zone. Vickers and Berkovich pyramidal indentation crack morphologies (3D) are also investigated and found to be controlled by the ratio of elastic modulus to yield strength (E/Y), with median type cracking dominating at low ratios (e.g. E/Y = 10) and Palmqvist type cracking at higher ratios (e.g. E/Y = 100). The results show that cohesive FE simulations of indentation cracking can indeed be used to critically examine the complex relationships between crack morphology, material properties, indenter geometry, and indentation test measurements, provided the crack length is long in comparison to the cohesive zone size. 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.

published proceedings

  • Modelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering

author list (cited authors)

  • Johanns, K. E., Lee, J. H., Gao, Y. F., & Pharr, G. M.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • Johanns, KE||Lee, JH||Gao, YF||Pharr, GM

publication date

  • January 2014