Biaxial tension of fibrous tissue: Using finite element methods to address experimental challenges arising from boundary conditions and anisotropy

Nathan T. Jacobs, Daniel Humbe Cortes Correales, Edward Vresilovic, Dawn M. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Planar biaxial tension remains a critical loading modality for fibrous soft tissue and is widely used to characterize tissue mechanical response, evaluate treatments, develop constitutive formulas, and obtain material properties for use in finite element studies. Although the application of tension on all edges of the test specimen represents the in situ environment, there remains a need to address the interpretation of experimental results. Unlike uniaxial tension, in biaxial tension the applied forces at the loading clamps do not transmit fully to the region of interest (ROI), which may lead to improper material characterization if not accounted for. In this study, we reviewed the tensile biaxial literature over the last ten years, noting experimental and analysis challenges. In response to these challenges, we used finite element simulations to quantify load transmission from the clamps to the ROI in biaxial tension and to formulate a correction factor that can be used to determine ROI stresses. Additionally, the impact of sample geometry, material anisotropy, and tissue orientation on the correction factor were determined. Large stress concentrations were evident in both square and cruciform geometries and for all levels of anisotropy. In general, stress concentrations were greater for the square geometry than the cruciform geometry. For both square and cruciform geometries, materials with fibers aligned parallel to the loading axes reduced stress concentrations compared to the isotropic tissue, resulting in more of the applied load being transferred to the ROI. In contrast, fiber-reinforced specimens oriented such that the fibers aligned at an angle to the loading axes produced very large stress concentrations across the clamps and shielding in the ROI. A correction factor technique was introduced that can be used to calculate the stresses in the ROI from the measured experimental loads at the clamps. Application of a correction factor to experimental biaxial results may lead to more accurate representation of the mechanical response of fibrous soft tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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