Within the framework of plane strain nonlinear elasticity, we present a discussion on the stability properties of various Enhanced Assumed Strain (EAS) finite element formulations with respect to physical and artificial (hourglassing) instabilities. By means of a linearized buckling analysis we analyze the influence of element formulations on the geometric stiffness and provide new mechanical insights into the hourglassing phenomenon. Based on these findings, a simple strategy to avoid hourglassing for compression problems is proposed. It is based on a modification of the discrete Green-Lagrange strain, simple to implement and generally applicable. The stabilization concept is tested for various popular element formulations (namely EAS elements and the assumed stress element by Pian and Sumihara). A further aspect of the present contribution is a discussion on proper benchmarking of finite elements in the context of hourglassing. We propose a simple bifurcation problem for which analytical solutions are readily available in the literature. It is tailored for an in-depth stability analysis of finite elements and allows a reliable assessment of its stability properties.
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