The paper presents an overview of the smoothed finite element methods (S-FEM) which are formulated by combining the existing standard FEM with the strain smoothing techniques used in the meshfree methods. The S-FEM family includes five models: CS-FEM, NS-FEM, ES-FEM, FS-FEM and α-FEM (a combination of NS-FEM and FEM). It was originally formulated for problems of linear elastic solid mechanics and found to have five major properties: (1) S-FEM models are always “softer” than the standard FEM, offering possibilities to overcome the so-called overly-stiff phenomenon encountered in the standard the FEM models; (2) S-FEM models give more freedom and convenience in constructing shape functions for special purposes or enrichments (e.g, various degree of singular field near the crack-tip, highly oscillating fields, etc.); (3) S-FEM models allow the use of distorted elements and general n-sided polygonal elements; (4) NS-FEM offers a simpler tool to estimate the bounds of solutions for many types of problems; (5) the αFEM can offer solutions of very high accuracy. With these properties, the S-FEM has rapidly attracted interests of many. Studies have been published on theoretical aspects of S-FEMs or modified S-FEMs or the related numerical methods. In addition, the applications of the S-FEM have been also extended to many different areas such as analyses of plate and shell structures, analyses of structures using new materials (piezo, composite, FGM), limit and shakedown analyses, geometrical nonlinear and material nonlinear analyses, acoustic analyses, analyses of singular problems (crack, fracture), and analyses of fluid-structure interaction problems.

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