Indentation of elastically soft and plastically compressible solids

A. Needleman*, V. Tvergaard, E. Van der Giessen

*Corresponding author for this work

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The effect of soft elasticity, i.e., a relatively small value of the ratio of Young's modulus to yield strength and plastic compressibility on the indentation of isotropically hardening elastic-viscoplastic solids is investigated. Calculations are carried out for indentation of a perfectly sticking rigid sharp indenter into a cylinder modeling indentation of a half space. The material is characterized by a finite strain elastic-viscoplastic constitutive relation that allows for plastic as well as elastic compressibility. Both soft elasticity and plastic compressibility significantly reduce the ratio of nominal indentation hardness to yield strength. A linear relation is found between the nominal indentation hardness and the logarithm of the ratio of Young's modulus to yield strength, but with a different coefficient than reported in previous studies. The nominal indentation hardness decreases rapidly for small deviations from plastic incompressibility and then decreases rather slowly for values of the plastic Poisson's ratio less than 0.25. For both soft elasticity and plastic compressibility, the main reason for the lower values of indentation hardness is related to the reduction in the hydrostatic stress level in the material below the indenter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalActa Mechanica Sinica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2015


  • Plasticity
  • Compressibility
  • Indentation
  • Finite element analysis

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