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A new constitutive theory for fiber-reinforced incompressible nonlinearly elastic solids. (English) Zbl 1176.74026
Summary: We consider an incompressible nonlinearly elastic material in which a matrix is reinforced by strong fibers, for example fibers of nylon or carbon aligned in one family of curves in a rubber matrix. Rather than adopting the constraint of fiber inextensibility as has been previously assumed in the literature, here we develop a theory of fiber-reinforced materials based on the less restrictive idea of limiting fiber extensibility. The motivation for such an approach is provided by recent research on limiting chain extensibility models for rubber. Thus the basic idea of the present paper is simple: we adapt the limiting chain extensibility concept to limiting fiber extensibility so that the usual inextensibility constraint traditionally used is replaced by a unilateral constraint. We use a strain-energy density composed with two terms, the first being associated with the isotropic matrix or base material and the second reflecting the transversely isotropic character of the material due to the uniaxial reinforcement introduced by the fibers. We consider a base neo-Hookean model plus a special term that takes into account the limiting extensibility in the fiber direction. Thus our model introduces an additional parameter, namely that associated with limiting extensibility in the fiber direction, over previously investigated models. The aim of this paper is to investigate the mathematical and mechanical feasibility of this new model and to examine the role played by the extensibility parameter. We examine the response of the proposed models in some basic homogeneous deformations and compare this response to those of standard models for fiber reinforced rubber materials. The role of the strain-stiffening of the fibers in the new models is examined. The enhanced stability of the new models is then illustrated by investigation of cavitation instabilities. One of the motivations for the work is to apply the model to the biomechanics of soft tissues and the potential merits of the proposed models for this purpose are briefly discussed.

MSC:
74B20 Nonlinear elasticity
74A20 Theory of constitutive functions in solid mechanics
74A40 Random materials and composite materials
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