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Solver settings in Abaqus/S for delamination analysis with cohesive elements

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I have different 3D models of laminates where I analyse the delamination propagation using zero thickness cohesive elements in Abaqus/Standard. My experience with the RIKS solver and Newton solvers are that they are extremely sensitive to even small changes in the step size settings as well as other solver settings. 

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CONTACT in ABAQUS: HARD and SOFT contact techniques

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I am using Abaqus for nonlinear FEA of contact between material1 (soft foam like) and material2 (hard plastic type) in vertebrae for my thesis. I have encountered many problems during this exercise, because I have to include the results of various contact conditions in this situation with friction. I am trying to get results for 

  •  Hard contact (using penalty constraint enforcement)
  •  Soft contact (using linear and exponential Pressure-Overclosure relations)

The major problem is convergence during both analyses.

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