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What Is A Material Model?


That may seem like a simple question, but really, what is the difference between a material model and a set of material parameters? To start  explaining this I think it is useful to first remember that a FE model simply uses three types of inputs:

  • The geometry of all parts.
  • The load and boundary conditions that are applied.
  • The material models that describe the material behaviors.

Definition of "Material Model"

  • Any product (such as a tire) will deform when exposed to a load. The amount of deformation depends on the stiffness of the material.
  • A material model is an equation that relates the applied force (or stress) to the resulting deformation (or strain).
  • All FE solvers support many material models, such as linear elastic, elastic-plastic, etc.
  • The PolyUMod library contains additional material models that exhibit non-linear time- or strain-dependence (like most polymers).

Definition of "Material Parameters"

  • A material model specifies the equation that convert between stress and strain for a material. A material model example is Linear Elastic.
  • The material parameters are the numbers that specify the properties of a specific material.
  • Example: At small deformations, both steel and rubber can be approximately linear in their stress-strain response. That is, both can be represented using a Linear Elastic material model, but they have very different material parameters (such as stiffness).
  • The MCalibration software makes it easy to convert experimental data into a calibrated material parameters for a given material.


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