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Fracture Toughness

Fracture Toughness

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Published by Babak Raji

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Published by: Babak Raji on Mar 21, 2011
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Fracture Toughness
 Fracture toughness is
an indication
of the amount of stress required to propagate apreexisting flaw. It is a very important material property since the occurrence of flaws is not completely avoidable in the processing, fabrication, or service of amaterial/component. Flaws may appear as cracks, voids, metallurgical inclusions,weld defects, design discontinuities, or some combination thereof. Since engineerscan never be totally sure that a material is flaw free, it is common practice toassume that a flaw of some chosen size will be present in some number of components and use the
linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM)
approach todesign critical components. This approach uses the flaw size and features,component geometry, loading conditions and the material property called fracturetoughness to evaluate the ability of a component containing a flaw to resistfracture.A parameter called the stress-intensity factor
is used todetermine the fracture toughness of most materials. A Romannumeral subscript indicates the mode of fracture and the threemodes of fracture are illustrated in the image to the right.
Mode I
fracture is the condition in which the crack plane isnormal to the direction of largest tensile loading. This is themost commonly encountered mode and, therefore, for theremainder of the material we will consider K
 The stress intensity factor is a function of loading, crack size,and structural geometry. The
stress intensity factor
may berepresented by the following equation:
 is the fracture toughness in
s is the applied stress in MPa or psi
ais the crack length in meters or inchesBis a crack length and component geometry factor that is differentfor each specimen and is dimensionless.
Role of Material Thickness
Specimens having standardproportions but different absolutesize produce different values forK
. This results because the stressstates adjacent to the flaw changeswith the specimen thickness (B)until the thickness exceeds somecritical dimension. Once thethickness exceeds the criticaldimension, the value of K
 becomes relatively constant andthis value, K
, is a true materialproperty which is called the plane-strain fracture toughness. Therelationship between 
fracture toughness,K
, is similar to the relationship betweenstress and tensile stress. Thestress intensity,
,represents the level of “stress” atthe tip of the crack and thefracture toughness,
,is the highest value of stressintensity that a material under very specific (plane-strain) conditions can withstandwithout fracture
. As the stress intensity factor reaches the K
value, unstablefracture occurs
. As with a material’s other mechanical properties, K
iscommonly reported in reference books and other sources.
Plane-Strain and Plane-Stress
When a material with a crack is loaded in tension, thematerials develop plastic strains as the yield stress isexceeded in the region near the crack tip. Material withinthe crack tip stress field, situated close to a free surface,can deform laterally (in the z-direction of the image)because there can be no stresses normal to the freesurface. The state of stress tends to biaxial and thematerial fractures in a characteristic ductile manner, witha 45
shear lip being formed at each free surface. Thiscondition is called “plane-stress" and it occurs inrelatively thin bodies where the stress through thethickness cannot vary appreciably due to the thin section.
Plane Strain
- a condition of a body in which thedisplacements of all points inthe body are parallel to agiven plane, and the values of theses displacements do notdepend on the distanceperpendicular to the plane
Plane Stress
– a condition of a body in which the state of stress is such that two of theprincipal stresses are alwaysparallel to a given plane and
are constant in the normaldirection.
However, material away from the free surfaces of a relatively thick component isnot free to deform laterally as it is constrained by the surrounding material. Thestress state under these conditions tends to triaxial and there is zero strainperpendicular to both the stress axis and the direction of crack propagation when amaterial is loaded in tension. This condition is called “plane-strain” and is found inthick plates. Under plane-strain conditions, materials behave essentially elasticuntil the fracture stress is reached and then rapid fracture occurs. Since little or noplastic deformation is noted, this mode fracture is termed brittle fracture.

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