Finite element analysis has been widely used in the field of foot and footwear biomechanics to determine plantar pressures as well as stresses and strains within soft tissue and footwear materials. When dealing with anatomical structures such as the foot, hexahedral mesh generation accounts for most of the model development time due to geometric complexities imposed by branching and embedded structures. Tetrahedral meshing, which can be more easily automated, has been the approach of choice to date in foot and footwear biomechanics. Here we use the nonlinear Finite Element program Abaqus (Simulia, Providence, RI) to examine the advantages and disadvantages of tetrahedral and hexahedral elements under compression and shear loading, material incompressibility, and frictional contact conditions which are commonly seen in foot and footwear biomechanics.. This study demonstrated that for a range of simulation conditions, hybrid hexahedral elements (Abaqus C3D8H) consistently performed well while hybrid linear tetrahedral elements (Abaqus C3D4H) performed poorly. On the other hand, enhanced quadratic tetrahedral elements with improved stress visualization (Abaqus C3D10I) performed as well as the hybrid hexahedral elements in terms of contact pressure and contact shear stress predictions. Although the enhanced quadratic tetrahedral element simulations were computationally expensive compared to hexahedral element simulations in both barefoot and footwear conditions, the enhanced quadratic tetrahedral element formulation seems to be very promising for foot and footwear applications as a result of decreased labor and expedited model development, all related to facilitated mesh generation.
This paper provides a comprehensive comparison of the performance of hexahedral and tetrahedral elements in FE modeling of the foot and footwear.
This project compares the performance of hexahedral and tetrahedral elements in finite element modeling of the foot and footwear