The nature of the constitutive contact force law utilized to describe contact-impact events plays a crucial role in predicting the dynamic response of multibody systems. The main goal of this work is present a survey of the literature on the most relevant penalty-force based approaches for multibody dynamic simulations. In this process, the fundamental characteristics of the purely elastic and the dissipative contact force models are analyzed, namely the models which have been developed based on the Hertz contact law. In particular, the different models are compared in this study for a simple impact problem for the sole purpose of comparison of the models and examining their validity compared to those from experiments. Results obtained for a classical ball impact on a massive surface are presented and used to discuss the main assumptions and procedures associated with the different penalty-force approaches. The force models are found to be quite well representative of the contact forces in an impact, and that they can be applied for the analysis of impact in more complex systems a such as the ones in planar and spatial multibody mechanical systems.

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