Size effects in heterogeneous materials are studied using a rate independent higher order strain gradient plasticity theory, where strain gradient effects are incorporated in the free energy of the material. Numerical studies are carried out using a finite element method, where the components of the plastic strain tensor appear as free variables in addition to the displacement variables. Non-conventional boundary conditions are applied at material interfaces to model a constraint on plastic flow due to dislocation blocking. Unit cell calculations are carried out under generalized plane strain conditions. The homogenized response of a material with cylindrical reinforcing fibers is analyzed for different values of the internal material length scale and homogenized yield surfaces are presented. While the main focus is on initial yield surfaces, subsequent yield surfaces are also presented. The center of the yield surface is tracked under uniaxial loading both in the transverse and longitudinal directions and an anisotropic Bauschinger effect is shown to depend on the size of the fibers. Results are compared to conventional predictions, and size-effects on the kinematic hardening are accentuated.
International Journal of Plasticity, 2011, Vol 27, Issue 11, p. 1817-1832