Efficient 3d finite element modeling of cyclic elasto-plastic rolling contact
Journal article, 2021

Railway rails accumulate large plastic deformations due to cyclic rolling contact loading. The plastic deformations alter the rail geometry, affect material behavior, and cause crack formation and growth. The complex interactions between these phenomena require high fidelity simulations to be understood. 3d finite element simulations are accurate, but their computational cost limits the possible number of simulated cycles. We propose a cyclic finite element simulation in which the wheel and rail remain in contact throughout the simulation. It uses periodic boundary conditions, shadow elements, and model reductions. Compared to previous work, it is 25 times faster. The method is available as an open-source plugin to Abaqus, enabling other researchers to study rolling contact loading coupled with large plastic deformations.

Finite element modeling

Rail-wheel contact

Rolling contact fatigue

Periodic boundary conditions


Knut Andreas Meyer

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Material and Computational Mechanics

Rostyslav Skrypnyk

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Dynamics

Martin Pletz

Montanuniversität Leoben

Tribology International

0301-679X (ISSN)

Vol. 161 107053

Influence of anisotropy on deterioration of rail materials (CHARMEC MU34)

Chalmers Railway Mechanics (CHARMEC), 2015-05-18 -- 2020-05-15.

European Commission (EC), 2015-05-18 -- 2020-05-15.

Research into enhanced track and switch and crossing system 2 (In2Track-2)

Swedish Transport Administration, 2018-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

European Commission (EC) (EC/H2020/826255), 2018-11-01 -- 2021-10-31.

Subject Categories

Aerospace Engineering

Applied Mechanics

Vehicle Engineering



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