thank you so much for the effort, I do appreciate it. However, I'm using Ansys version 19.0 and I get a pop-up window saying you have a newer version:

Would it be possible for you to save the file in an older version? I only have a university licence supporting version 19.
I added my files as a zip file (didn't know this was possible before, but .7z is working). Maybe you can see any differences in methods, if the above is not working.
Thanks in advance.
Regards Thomas

P.s. just to make sure, you also simulated the releasing of the specimen, right? So a displacement from 0 to e.g. -2mm, back to 0.
P.p.s. I tried no separation contact, but then each node sticks to the surface and you get an inaccurate simulation. Unless there is a way to have a contact to contact no seperation.