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JOURNAL O F M A T E R I A L S S C I E N C E 2 (1967) 4 7 4 - 4 8 8

Fatigue in Fibres and Plastics (A Review)
d. W. S. H E A R L E
Department of Textile Technology, The University of Manchester Institute of Science
and Technology, Manchester 1, UK

A review is presented of studies of fatigue in fibres and plastics. The nature of fatigue
in visco-elastic systems is discussed, and the reasons for the use of cumulative extension
testing are given. A model is described showing the importance of imperfect elastic
recovery and of time-dependent effects in determining behaviour in a fatigue test.
Superimposed on this, there may be some true fatigue effects. Using this model, a more
rational explanation of experimental results, which are otherwise confusing, is attempted.

1. I n t r o d u c t i o n a level below the elastic limit of the material:
The word fatigue is rather loosely used as a the strains are very small. In many fibres and
description of behaviour in polymeric materials; plastics, the problem is different because there
the first necessity is to clarify its meaning. This is no clear division between elastic and plastic
is more than a mere matter of terminology: it regions of deformation, because the strains are
is necessary to study the subject in detail to often much larger, and because these materials
discover what phenomena are i n v o l v e d - t o are visco-elastic and so their properties are
discover, indeed, whether there is anything that strongly time-dependent. Table II gives a
can properly be called fatigue. An interesting comparison between the results of typical
distinction is made by Frank and Singleton [1 ] fatigue tests on metal and fibre. The term
between fatigue-testing, covering a variety of "fatigue" can also be used for failure of metals
experimental procedures, and fatigue-failure, after a few reversals at large strains, above the
implying a specific mechanism of rupture. yield point; and this effect is closer to the
Fatigue-testing can be defined as the subjec- behaviour of visco-elastic materials, especially
tion of specimens to cyclically varying stress or for pure, soft metals of low melting point.
strain leading ultimately to breakage. This The subject of fatigue in fibres and plastics
definition eliminates the inclusion of dynamic also differs from the subject of fatigue in metals
tests which do not cause break, and also elimin- in that much less work has been done on it.
ates the failure of a specimen after some time There is much less experimental information,
under a constant load. The latter type of test is and the theoretical approaches to the best
sometimes referred to as static fatigue, but is methods of test procedure, the best ways of
better regarded as a creep test leading ultimately expressing results, and the explanation of the
to the breaking extension, with the possibility phenomena are less highly advanced.
that the breaking extension and the nature of The deformation and damage which an
the break may depend on the type of test and imperfectly elastic material suffers during fatigue-
may be a function of the time to break. testing is of two sorts. Firstly, there are effects
Table I describes the basic structural features which are incidental to fatigue-testing in the
of fibres and plastics. We shall not be concerned sense that they can, in principle, be predicted
in this paper with rubber-like amorphous from a knowledge of the stress/strain/time and
polymers, or with any composite systems such recovery properties obtained in other simple
as textile fabrics containing many fibres in tests. These effects include: (i) continuing
particular structural arrangements, tyres con- deformation, resulting from imperfect recovery
taining rubber and cord, or fibre-reinforced in successive cycles if the slack is taken up
plastics. during the test; (ii) continuing creep and stress
In metals, "fatigue" commonly implies failure relaxation effects; (iii) rise in temperature, and
after a large number of applications of stress at its effects, resulting from the loss of energy in
F A T I G U E I N F I B R E S A N D P L A S T I C S (A R E V I E W )

T A B L E I Classification of plastics and fibres.
Type Molecular nature Character Examples
Thermo-set Irregular three- Hard, rigid, infusible Ebonite,
plastic dimensional network Bakelite
Glassy Linear, amorphous, Hard, rigid; softening to visco-elastic with large Perspex,
thermoplastic rigid network energy losses, and then to elastic rubber polystyrene
Tough plastic Linear, partially Moderately extensible, tough, reasonably Polythene,
crystalline, elastic, fusible bulk nylon
Fibre or film Linear, partially Moderately extensible, high strength and Cotton, nylon,
crystalline, oriented elasticity in preferred direction, fusible Cellophane

T A B L E II Typical conditionsfor fatigue-failure. In fibre and textile studies, there are several strong
reasons for replacing the above definition of stress by
Copper Nylon specific stress defined as force per unit linear density.
Type of test Cycles of Cumulative Indeed, this practice can be commended for wider use,
constant stress extension since the mass is a more basic property of a specimen than
its volume. Linear density (or mass per unit length) is
commonly expressed in denier, namely gramme per
Number of cycles 105 105 9000 m; but there is a strong movement to replace this
to failure by a proper metric unit: tex, namely gramme per 1000 m.
Maximum stress 20 20 Specific stress thus has units of gf/denier or gf/tex,
(kg/mm2) usually abbreviated to g/den or g/rex. The unit gf/tex is
Extension 0.2 ~ l0 identical with the unit kmf or kin, namely the force
Type of deformation Elastic Visco-elastic exerted by the weight of a given length of the material.
of bulk of material + plastic The relation between stress and specific stress involves
the density of the material.
The following are conversion relations for some of these
cyclic d e f o r m a t i o n . Secondly, there m a y be units:
1 kgf/mm~ = 9.81 • lOs newton/m 2 -- 1422 lb/in. 2
effects which are specifically due to the fact t h a t
1 gf/den = 9 gf/tex
stress is r e p e a t e d l y a p p l i e d a n d removed. These
m a y include: (i) true fatigue-failure, due to If f = stress in kgf/mm2, a = specific stress in gf/tex,
and p = density in g/cm3, then:
some f o r m o f c r a c k growth, often limited to
regions o f high localised d e f o r m a t i o n ; (ii) f = pc,
general w e a k e n i n g o f the material, due to 2. T h e Nature of Fatigue-Testing of
structural d a m a g e o r chemical d e g r a d a t i o n .
I f c o m p o s i t e specimens are used, there is also
2.1. E x p e r i m e n t a l M e t h o d s
the possibility o f d a m a g e due to forces between
the i n d i v i d u a l c o m p o n e n t s : thus there m a y be There are a n u m b e r o f p r o b l e m s c o n n e c t e d with
frictional wear between the i n d i v i d u a l fibres in the choice o f e x p e r i m e n t a l m e t h o d for the study
a textile yarn. o f fatigue in fibres. Because the m a t e r i a l is n o t
It is i m p o r t a n t in studying fatigue to try a n d elastic, it is n o t p o s s i b l e to r e g a r d a given,
sort o u t which o f these v a r i o u s factors are i m p o s e d , c o n s t a n t strain v a r i a t i o n as equivalent
effective, a n d n o t to require all the results to be to a c o n s t a n t stress variation. F u r t h e r m o r e , in
explained b y a single mechanism. O u r first t a s k the simplest f o r m o f d e f o r m a t i o n , n a m e l y
m u s t therefore be to see h o w the first g r o u p o f h o l d i n g a fibre specimen at each end a n d
effects can be recognised: we shall then be in a changing the length, negative stresses are n o t
p o s i t i o n to examine e x p e r i m e n t a l d a t a a n d see possible because the fibre buckles. W e are thus
whether a n y effects f r o m the second g r o u p limited to the positive q u a d r a n t o f the stress/
remain. strain d i a g r a m .
Note on units Results in the literature are reported in a Rejecting any empirical m e t h o d which gives an
variety of stress units. Studies on plastics use the usual ill-defined c o m b i n a t i o n o f stress a n d strain
physical definition of stress as force per unit area; the variation, we are left with the possibilities o f
possible units include newton/m 2, dyn/em2, kgf/mm 2 or cyclically varying the t e n s i o n o r extension o f the
kg/mm 2, and lb/in. 2 or psi. The choice of units depends
on how far an author wishes to conform to modern specimen between fixed limits. T h e first alterna-
academic preference or to older practical usage. tive is experimentally difficult, because o f the
J. W . S. H E A R L E

need to maintain a reproducible load variation to which they are connected through phosphor
in a specimen which is both changing con- bronze strips mounted with strain gauges in
siderably in length during each cycle and order to allow variation in tension to be fol-
steadily increasing in mean length (or length lowed. The lower jaws are held clamped
under zero load). The behaviour of fibres under electromagnetically during the extension, but
long periods of load-cycling has consequently at the lower part of each stroke the clamps
been little studied; it is, however, a method release and the slack is taken up by the action
which ought to be examined and attempted of the small weight of the lower jaw assembly.
more. Below the lower jaws are soft iron rods project-
Simple extension cycling is the easiest method. ing into mutual inductance coils, allowing
The specimen is held between two clamps and changes in length to be followed. Counters
one of them is subjected to a cyclic change of record the number of cycles and are cut off by
position. The difficulty with this method, as we a break detector when a sample fails. In the next
shall see, is that the specimen becomes slack section, the behaviour in cumulative testing
owing to imperfect recovery and is not under will be discussed in detail.
tension during a large part of each cycle. Unless Other forms of deformation which can easily
the imposed extensions are very large, it is be used on fibres are torsion and bending. With
difficult to get failure. these, it is possible to go through the origin and
In order to get failure, most investigators have to subject the fibre to alternating positive and
adopted the technique of removing the slack at negative stresses and strains. An interesting
the end of each cycle, and then imposing the biaxial-rotation method was used by Lyons and
given extension stroke on the specimen which Prevorsek [3]. The fibre specimen was held in
is once again just taut. This is known as cumu- two chucks with axes at 90 ~ as shown in fig. 2.
lative extension testing. A typical form of The fibre is thus in tension on the outside and in
apparatus used by Booth and Hearle [2] is compression on the inside of the bend. On
illustrated schematically in fig. 1. The specimens rotation, the material is subject to alternating
tension and compression, but there is no
I ;"->
torsional deformation if the two chucks are
driven in synchronism.


Figure 2 B i a x i a l - r o t a t i o n method.

! [~] r'l*- Lower jew 2.2. Cyclic Deformation of Plastic and
: I I*~Br . . . . . ,s
" /~1/1l IIt I"~ C a-rnpng Visco-elastic Materials
', k,.~' == [~k,..~) mechcmism
The effects of imperfect recovery in a cumulative
extension test have been discussed in terms of a
L .......
~ ""~Length ~r~nsd
..... simple model, illustrated in fig. 3, by Booth,
Hearle, and Plonsker [2, 4]. If the extension in
the n th cycle is E~, the elastic recovery (i.e. the
fraction of the total extension which is recovered)
from this extension is r,, and, if the extension
Figure 1 Schematic view of cumulative extension tester
stroke is E1, then the extension ~,+1 in the
(Booth and Hearle [2]).
(n + 1)th cycle will be given by:

are clamped between pairs of jaws arranged in ~+1 ---- E,(1 - r,) ~- E1 (1)
vertical alignment. The upper jaws are subjected If it can be assumed that elastic recovery is a
to a reciprocating motion from the main drive, function only of the maximum strain reached,
F A T I G U E I N F I B R E S A N D P L A S T I C S (A R E V I E W )

STRESS The simple behaviour may be modified if the
materials show either primary creep (i.e. a time-
dependent deformation recoverable in time) or
secondary creep (i.e. a non-recoverable de-
formation with time under stress). If there is
secondary creep, then, even in fixed extension
cycling, the proportion of the total extension
which is non-recoverable will increase as time
goes on. In a cumulative extension test, this
C D ;-
means that the amount of slack to be removed
P >I<----R---->
I STRAIN will gradually increase as time goes on, and so,
instead of reaching a constant limiting exten-
sion, there will be a slow increase of the maxi-
mum extension achieved.
Figure 3 Basis of simple model of recovery behaviour"
2.3. Comparison of Ideal and Experimental
and is independent of the time or number of Fig. 4 shows the behaviour of idealised speci-
cycles, it is then possible to use equation 1 to mens, in which elastic recovery is a function
calculate the gradual increase of extension in a only of the maximum strain, under three differ-
cumulative extension test in which the slack ent forms of cyclic deformation. In fixed exten-
is removed after each cycle of a given imposed sion cycling, the pattern of all cycles, after the
extension. first, is elastic extension up to a given stress
It also follows from equation 1 that, if level, in what is now a mechanically conditioned
E~r~ = q, then E~+I = E~, and no further specimen, but with the specimen slack during a
extension occurs. Depending on the elastic- substantial part of each cycle. Cycling between
recovery properties of the material and the given stress limits gives a pattern differing only
magnitude of the imposed stroke, we can then in the absence of the slack period. Cumulative
expect to observe two possible forms of be- extension cycling, on the other hand, leads to a
haviour: (i) the specimen may extend in suc- steady increase of the maximum stress reached.
cessive cycles until it reaches its breaking Fig. 5 shows comparable experimental data.
extension and breaks; or (ii) the specimen may The pattern is generally similar to that of fig. 4,
extend over a number of cycles, finally reaching except that there is marked non-linearity and
a limiting extension which remains constant. that the effects of secondary creep appear as a

- 2~

STRA,. . C ST.A,. I< >
P= r 2~>>

(a) (b) (c)
Figure 4 Behaviour of specimens showing idealised recovery behaviour: (a) in fixed extension cycling; (b) in load
cycling; (c) in cumulative extension cycling.

gradual reduction of stress in fixed extension continuing increase which can be attributed to
cycling and a gradual increase of maximum the visco-elastic effects.
extension in constant stress cycling. The cumula-
tive extension test shows an approach in a few 2.4. A Possible Pattern of Failure in
cycles to the breaking extension of the specimen: Cumulative Extension Fatigue-Testing
this demonstrates the first type of behaviour Final failure is always subject to a large statisti-
discussed in the previous section. cal variation between individual specimens,
Fig. 6 shows a comparison of experimental since it is due to the occurrence o f some point
results during cumulative extension testing with of exceptional weakness. Failure is always
the change in extension predicted by equation 1 dominated by the extreme values of a frequency
using experimental elastic-recovery values. At distribution where uncertainty is greatest. The
large, imposed extensions, the specimen extends gradual extension in cumulative extension tests
rapidly and there is good agreement between will thus lead up to a distribution of breaking-
experiment and theory, particularly if elastic- extension values, and hence to a distribution o f
recovery values after a number of cycles are fatigue lives, even if there is no variability in the
used in evaluating the equation. At small, deformation behaviour. Fig. 7 is a representa-
imposed strokes, there is evidence of approach tion of this behaviour, drawn in a linear fashion
to a limit as predicted by theory, though at a for the sake of clarity and ease in calculation,
higher value of total extension and with some and because any attempt to put in smooth curves

2C 20

IC 2 8 I0

0.05 0.10 0-15 0 O-O5 0,I0 O.15

(a) (b)


200- /

"~" 1 5 0 - -



5 IO 15 20

Figure 5 Actual experimental behaviour: (a) cellulose acetate fibre, in fixed extension cycling (Hearle and Plonsker
[4]); (b) cellulose acetate fibre, in load cycling (Hearle and Plonsker [4]); (c) v i s c o s e rayon yarn, in cumulative exten-
sion cycling (Booth and Hearle [2]).

O,3C i i { i 3.30, j ~ ......r J i
- - Observed
..... Computed .NYLON POLYESTER

t/~ -- Observed
0 . 2 .= ~.asl 9'~ ..... Computed
,= 0 . 0 6
;,/,,.oo., o,,s0+.
0.2C 0,20 I



~uj 0.15 0.15

............... ~,: 9:Io~ f at, cyde

E,= 0 . 0 5
f ........... ~=0"03, r at lScycles
~,=0.05, r at 19cycles 0.05
0.05 .................................
e,kO'05, r at Icycle


(a) (b)

Figure 6 C u m u l a t i v e extension testing ~ comparison of theory and experiment (Hearle and PIonsker [4]): (a) nylon
f i b r e ; (b) p o l y e s t e r f i b r e .

would merely give a spurious air of exact
validity to what is only intended to be a sche-
matic indication of the mechanisms involved.
~ o Cxtens{on The diagram I shows the combination of the
elastic-recovery effects of equation 1 leading
N ~'visco-elastic
rr effect ~I
into a slowly increasing extension due to visco-
effect elastic effects, at increasing stroke levels, a to e.
p 9 This deformation will interact with the breaking-
O FaiMrr due to reaching extension distribution (II) to give the failure
A d
- brcakin~ extension"
B distribution shown in diagram III. At large
L strokes, all the specimens will fail, owing to the
y b 111 elastic-recovery effects; at intermediate strokes,
some will; at low strokes, none will. In addition,
P some specimens, which survive the elastic-
O r Failure due to recovery sequence, may fail owing to the visco-
A d "fatigue"
elastic effects leading to the breaking extension.
I b We now postulate that failure may also occur
T lg owing to fatigue effects specifically associated
with the repeated application of stress. In the
p e absence of failure due to other causes, the
OB d Combined effect frequency distributions for fatigue-failure are
indicated in diagram IV. This will compete
L with failure due to reaching breaking extension
I (III), and the combined distributions are shown
y ~
in diagram V. At high strokes and short life,
LOG NO. OF CYCLES elastic-recovery effects dominate; while at low
Figure 7 S c h e m a t i c r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of failure m e c h a n i s m Jn strokes and long lives, we have fatigue-failure.
cumulative extension testing. At intermediate strokes, both effects contribute
J. W. S. H E A R L E

and, with the particular values used, a bimodal dith, we obtained the theoretical values given in
distribution occurs. table III. These agree reasonably with Kelly's
It must be emphasised that fig. 7 is purely experimental values and indicate that the
schematic. Real behaviour will depend on the major effect in his tests is the same as is found in
exact form and placing of the deformation tensile tests at different rates. He does, however,
curves and the frequency distributions. Thus the find some effect of rate of cycling - for instance,
visco-elastic effects which do not have much a Fortisan yarn shows an expected failure after
effect on diagram V could, if the fatigue dis- 1000 cycles at 7 9 ~ of breaking strength at
tributions were displaced to longer times, have 11 c/min and at 69 ~ of breaking strength at
more effect. There are also many other para- 26 c / m i n - a n d this suggests that the inter-
meters, such as frequency, temperature, and so mittent character of the loading does have some
on, which may modify the curves. The breaking- influence on behaviour.
extension distribution may be affected by the
history leading to break. Nevertheless, we shall 3.2. Behaviour of Yarns in Fixed Extension
find that fig. 7 does give us a useful framework Cycling
for the discussion of fatigue in fibres. Booth and Hearle [2] report some studies of
yarns subject to fixed extension cycling. The
3. Results of Fatigue Studies general pattern of behaviour is illustrated in
3.1. Behaviour of Yarns in Load-Cycling fig. 8: as the test proceeds, the amount of slack
Kelly [5] has recently published a set of results
in which he investigated the failure of continuous ,,tOQ

filament yarns subjected to up to 2000 repeated
applications of load on an Instron tester. Table
III gives a typical set of results.
0.2 ~
TABLE III Comparison of Kelly's [5] experimental
results with prediction from time to break.
Number of Relative breaking load (IOOFJF1)


cycles Observed Predicted O VALUES OF PEAl< TENSION

1 lOO lOO I I I I I
100 86 84 tO IO ~" 10~ IO ~ IO ~
1000 72 76
Figure 8 Behaviour of nylon yarn during fixed extension
Hearle [6] has pointed out that these measure- cycling (Booth and Hearle [2]).
ments can be explained to a considerable extent
in terms of breaking-times. For fibres and yarns in the specimen increases and the peak tension
subject to simple tensile tests over a very wide falls. Viscose, acetate, nylon, and Terylene
range of rates of extension, Meredith [7] found (polyester) yarns were examined, and there were
agreement with the empirical equation: no complete failures of zero-twist yarn speci-
F 2 -- f 1 = klog~o (t2/tl) mens with imposed extensions of 10, 15, and
where F~ and F~ are the breaking-loads in 2 0 ~ carried on to 1.9 • 105 cycles, although
times t~ and t~ respectively, and k (which is there was some breakage of individual filaments.
negative) is the strength/time coefficient. Some twisted yarns did fail at the higher strokes.
Treating a repeated loading test in the same In general, these tests demonstrated the diffi-
way, with tl put equal to the period of one culty of achieving failure in a simple, fixed-
cycle, and F1 as the load to break in one cycle, extension fatigue test.
we have t2/q = N ~ - t h e number of cycles to 3.3. The Cumulative Extension Studies of
failure under a load F~. The relative breaking Booth and Hearle
strength as a percentage plotted by Kelly will
thus be given by: When the same yarns were tested by Booth and
Hearle [2] in a cumulative extension test, there
10012/['1 = 100(1 -I- k log N) was a gradual increase of length, and at large
With k = - 0 . 0 8 , as found for nylon by Mere- strokes failure occurred. The survivor diagrams
F A T I G U E I N F I B R E S A N D P L A S T I C S (A R E V I E W )

for tests on twenty individual specimens are of the broken fibre ends is quite different from
shown in fig. 9. that in a simple tensile test. One example is
At the largest strokes applied to viscose rayon shown in fig. 11. The end is jagged, and there
yarns, as shown in fig. 10, the increase in length is a partial break some distance away from the
agrees with that predicted from elastic-recovery actual point of failure. The work of Booth and
values and leads rapidly to the ordinary breaking Hearle [2] was on multifilament yarns, so that
extension of the specimen: the result of the test some of the effects might be attributed to inter-
is thus explained solely in terms of elastic- fibre forces. However, we have observed similar
recovery effects. With smaller strokes, and in jagged breaks on fatigued single-fibre specimens
nylon yarns, where the elastic-recovery analysis [8].
predicts a stable limit, the extension does con- A comparison of the various materials tested
tinue, and break eventually occurs after a large by Booth and Hearle is shown by the median
number of cycles. This will partly be due to the number of cycles to break given in table IV.
visco-elastic effects. However, there are two Viscose rayon and acetate fail at much lower
pieces of evidence which suggest that the nature strokes than nylon or Terylene. It may be
of the break is different. Firstly, the breaking noted that there is only a very narrow range o f
extension is less when failure occurs after a strokes between those which do not give failure

large number of cycles. Secondly, the appearance in a measurable number of cycles and those

2O , , L ~, 0
5~ 2
Only 4 y(Irns 161-
broke before:
m14 1"85xlOScycles 141-
"F.12 : 21-

{;o 01-

#6 6F

I r i I 1 I 1
I0 102 103 104 105 10 102 103 104 10 s
Number of cycles Number of cycles

(a) (b)

20 1 I
20 I I I ,

18 18}--

16 161-

.~12 ! 2p
12~% 10%

I t
IO 2


103 104

r t
10 102


104 lOS

Figure 9 Survivor diagrams f o r yarns in cumulative extension test at various i m p o s e d extensions (Booth and Hearle
[2]): (a) viscose rayon; (b) cellulose acetate; (c) nylon; (d) polyester (Terylene).
J. W . S. H E A R L E

2'h.% A S744


2J/~~ ~

Z 161- , I Io~ - 6
o / ,t,/ BREAK

'" s2H I -- /

/ ~


o (
^ '~'-~-~--~ I'
I ! I
f IO% II 13284.
20 0 BSERVED:.12'/~/o 9 170
Is% x 16
ZI8 is% J
,,t 12
X .&~'-J I J
n, 8
(L / x A/


o "~--II-II'~ i J J l ] I 0~176
I0 10 2 I0 3 I0 4 IO s IO 6

Figure 10 Comparison of observed extension during cumulative extension tests with predictions from recovery be-
haviour (Booth and Hearle [2]).


pattern, with the results for a stroke of 8 %
divided between the two forms. In another test,
on a Dacron polyester fibre (fig. 12c), a similar
split between two lines on a plot of cumulative
frequency distribution is shown at certain
frequencies. Finally, fig. 12d shows a collected
plot of average lifetime versus relative stroke for
several types of fibre, with two distinct portions:
one covering strokes down to a certain fraction
of the breaking extension, giving lifetimes up
to 100 cycles, and the other at lower strokes
carrying on to very long lifes.
The effect of frequency of cycling was found,
in one series of tests on an acrylic fibre, to give
the relation:
Nm = O1`'0.28
Figure 11 Fibre from a fatigued nylon yarn (Booth and
Hearle [2]) (• where: Nm is the number of cycles to break;
a, a constant; and v, the frequency in cycles
per second.
TABLE IV Median number of cycles to break for
various yarns, in cumulative extension test- This is a special case of a general law pro-
ing (Booth and Hearle [2]). posed by Waller and Roseveare [10], of the
form N = av ~, and found to fit results for
Stroke (%) viscose rayon tyre cords with m = 89 Obviously
289 5 789 10 1289 15 a law of this form would not fit when the mech-
Viscose rayon (a) 79 6 anism of failure is changing, as it appears to for
Acetate 32 348 58 6 the results in fig. 12c.
Nylon (b) 11469 220 12 The statistics of failure have been analysed by
Polyester (b) 15 715 18 7 Lyons and Prevorsek using the Weibull dis-
(a) Only four samples out o f ten broke up to 5 • 10 5
cycles. P(N) = exp ( - [(N - No)/(Nv - No)] k)
(b~ Preliminary experiment showed no breaks uo to
5 • 10 5 cycles. where: P(N) is the probability of survival for
N cycles; No, the minimum life; N.r the char-
acteristic extreme, given by P ( N v ) = e-X; and
which are so large that break occurs in very few k, the shape parameter.
cycles. True fatigue, if it exists, needs rather They find that a simple fitting of this equation
carefully selected conditions for its observation. gives a negative value of No; but, as this is not
allowable, they put No equal to zero. The results
3.4. The Work of Lyons and Prevorsek for several series, of about twenty specimens
Another extensive series of tests using a cumula- each, then show a fairly reasonable fit to a
tive extension method has been reported by straight line when plotted on Weibull paper.
Lyons and Prevorsek [9]. A selection of their However, Booth and Hearle [2] have pointed
results will be included here. out that, although their results show a reason-
Several of their observations fit in with the able fit to a Weibull distribution, they also fit
view presented earlier in this paper. Fig. 12a other distributions, such as a normal distribu-
shows frequency distributions of lifetimes of an tion for ~/N. In order to test the validity of a
experimental acrylic fibre. At low strokes, all particular distribution, it is necessary to examine
specimens last for a long period, but as the a very large population. While demonstrating
stroke is increased a second peak appears at a its usefulness empirically as a method of
shorter life and gradually becomes more presenting the data, the work of Lyons and
important: this behaviour would be explained Prevorsek does not establish the basic validity
by the two mechanisms of failure indicated in of the Weibull distribution, or give confidence
fig. 7. A cumulative frequency distribution for that it could safely be extrapolated much beyond
nylon fibres (fig. 12b) also shows a change in the range of the available data.
J. W. S. H E A R L E

== 8 I I I I I l I


I I ! I I l


e o , 9 ,o 9176
.~ oO
9 ,
9 t


4 ~=.=...-
9 o 9176
Z - iOO/o -
Z o . 9149 9 x 12% _
~:2- 15%
IX. = ...
! ! I I I I I I I I I
2 4 6 2 4 6 8 0.01 0"1 I 5 2 0 5 0 BO 95 99 999 99.99

(,a) (b)

9 9 600cpm

o 5 I/)
9 9o , 9 :.,'~.~cpm Z
9 oO.,. o*~ I,,IJ
Q~~ I'-
9 oucpm- x
.~ ~ o.o 9 9 I,iJ
I.U I I I I [ I
9" ..." x Acrylic
A Dacron .52
Z 3 99 ~1
~,%~, 9 Nylon 66
ttl 9 o.8i i
"" ==o.61

t I l I a I I ~ i ~ 0 I I I I I
~O 0.1 I 5 2 0 5 0 8 0 95 99 99.999.99 IO 10 2 I0 3 10 4 10 5 0 6


s Cd)

Figure 12 Some results of cumulative extension tests (Lyons and Prevorsek [g]) : (a) distribution curves for cycles to
failure in an experimental acrylic fibre at strokes of 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, and 4.1%; (b) cumulative distribution curves for a
nylon 6 fibre, plotted on normal probability coordinates; (c) effect of frequency on cumulative distribution curves for
a Dacron polyester fibre; (d) effect of relative stroke on number of cycles to failure.

Lyons and Prevorsek also made some inter- another paper, they consider the law of cumula-
esting studies on the general damage occurring tive damage proposed by Miner [11]. This law
during testing, though with rather conflicting states that, if, under condition i, failure occurs in
results. The stress/strain curves of broken Ni cycles, then the application of ni cycles
portions of acrylic fibres (fig. 13) show a general causes a fractional damage o f ni/N~. Failure
stiffening. However, as indicated in table V, occurs after a miscellaneous history when
subsequent fatigue tests on these broken portions ZnJNi = 1. Table VI shows that the behaviour
showed lifetimes as long as in the first test: this of a Dacron polyester fibre was consistent
suggests that there is no progressive damage with this law.
and that failure is rapid and localised. In An indication of the importance of the

5 T A B L E V I I Fatigue performance of two polyester types
(Lyons and Prevorsek [9]).
Dacron 52 Dacron 420
4 Median number of cycles to
6 ~ stroke, 60 c/rain 110 2493
600 c/min 551 106 280
Modulus (g/den) 92 123
Tenacity (g/den) 7.9 10.2
Breaking extension (~) 17 15
Work of rupture (g/den) 0.8 0.9
Molecular weight (number 20 200 29 000
Density 1.378 1.384
t I I I Creep extension (~o) after
0 5 I0 15 20 25 100 cycles at 6 ~ stroke,
EXTENSION o/0 60 c/min 6.2 4.2
600 c/min -- 0.8
Figure 13 Stress/strain curves for original and fatigued
specimens of an acrylic fibre (Lyons and Prevorsek
[9]). physical structure of the fibre is shown by the
comparison of two Dacron polyester fibres given
in table VII. It might be expected that, in a
fatigue test carried out at a given level of
TABLE V Effect of second fatigue test on a broken
extension, the fibre with the highest breaking
specimen, acrylic fibre (Lyons and Prevorsek
[9]). extension would show the longest life; but this
is not s o - clearly some other structural feature
Fatigue life (h) must be playing an important part.
1st test 2nd test Finally, in their biaxial-rotation studies of
monofilaments, Lyons and Prevorsek made
0.92 1.07 interesting observations of the growth of cracks
7.71 0.00
during fatiguing. Cracks started at the surface
7.29 3.67
2.54 9.84 of the monofilament, and penetrated in further
12.73 0.00 as the test proceeded. Tenacity values of
3.28 14.47 specimens removed after some period gradually
decreased, until finally they reached zero.

3.5. Studies of Fatigue in Plastics
TABLE VI Test of law of cumulative damage on a With the exception of work on composite
polyester fibre (Lyons and Prevorsek [9]). systems such as fibre-reinforced plastics, falling
outside the scope of this paper, there appears to
Stroke (~) 4.0 4.3 4.6 5.0 5.3 5.6 have been even less study of fatigue in plastics.
Life in 316 204 64 81 58 44 For instance, Neilsen's [12] standard work on
103 cycles mechanical properties of polymers contains only
in simple a brief note on the subject.
test (Nd The availability of plastics in large solid
Period in 12 8 6 3 3 31 shapes means that conventional fatigue-testing
10~ cycles equipment and methods can be used: there are
in sequential no difficulties about alternating positive and
test (m) negative loads. There are three investigations
Damage ratio 0.04 0.04 0.095 0.04 0.05 0.70 of particular interest.
(m/Nd Findley [13] studied the behaviour of cellulose
(ni/Nd = 0.97 acetate twenty-five years ago, using a cantilever
J. W . S. H E A R L E

test at strains of less than 1%, which is within TABLE VIII Cantilever bending fatigue test on cellu-
the elastic region. He found a typical fatigue lose acetate (Findley [13]).
relation with the life of the specimen increasing Endurance limit for rectangular specimen, aged for
as the applied stress decreased, and a well- 15 months = 1380 lb/in. ~* (alternating stress at medium
defined stress below which the specimen lasted speed)
indefinitely. For stresses just above this endur- Effect of other factors Endurance limits
ance limit, the lifetimes were about 106 cycles. (lb/in. 2)
Table VIII shows the effect of various factors on
Not aged 1100
the endurance limit.
Throop [14] found generally similar results for Circular specimen 1760
polystyrene fatigued under axial alternating Machined surface 1410
load on a Sonntag machine, as illustrated in fig. Cooled to room temperature 1540
14. The endurance limit was of the order of (89• by air blast
tensile strength) and corresponded to the stress Slow speed, 40 c/rain 2000
at which the first crack appeared: the strain Fligh speed, 3000 c/min 1400
under this stress was 0.35%. The first small
Superimposed on mean stress 950
cracks perpendicular to the axis merged to of 4500 lb/in. 2
inclined cracks at 45~ increasing in number and
depth until fracture occurred on an inclined *1 lb/in. 2 = 7 X 10-3 kg/cm ~
Polymethyl methacrylate has been examined
by Zarek [15], using dead-weight loading to of cycles, the area of multiple cracking was small,
cause bending stresses on a rotating specimen. with the remainder of the broken surface being
The appearance of the break suggested that it smooth and suggesting a sharp completion of the
was initiated by crack development. At high break. As the stress was reduced, the life
stresses, when break occurred in a low number lengthened, and the area of multiple cracking
3500 1 [ I I





I I 1 I
03 IO4 IOs IO6 IO7 08

Figure 14 Stress-life/fatigue curve for a polystyrene rod under axial alternating load (Throop [14]).

increased until, near the endurance limit, it of other mechanisms of failure, probably as-
covered a large area of the cross-section. sociated with crack growth and probably fol-
All these studies on amorphous polymers lowing lines of m a x i m u m shear stress. A num-
in the glassy state show a behaviour generally ber of detailed theories have been proposed.
similar to metals, and can be explained with Kargin and Slonimiski [18] have suggested a
the view that, above a certain stress level, crack mechano-chemical mechanism: the application
growth can be started in a fatigue test and con- of tension leads to polymer chain rupture, and
tinues until break occurs. hence to free-radical formation and to chemical
There is an interesting example of the use of degradation.
a partially crystalline polymer, polypropylene, Alternative purely physical mechanisms may
in an application demanding good fatigue life be suggested. Eyring's general reaction rate
[16]. A strip of this material can act as an integral theory, which can be used to predict the rate of
hinge. As a result, it is possible to produce, as bond breakage, has been modified by Lyons
one item in a single moulding, a container, its [19] to bring in a periodic stress factor and to
lid, and the hinge: the separate mouldings and calculate the time for all the bonds to break.
the assembly operations are eliminated. The This leads to a prediction of the frequency
hinge m a y withstand flexing for indefinitely long relation N = a v m, found in some experiments.
periods: in laboratory tests, correctly designed Other developments of Eyring's theory have
and moulded hinges have exceeded 23 million been made by Coleman [20], who includes a
flexes without failure. On the other hand, a discussion of the statistics of failure.
badly designed or moulded hinge may crack More recently, Prevorsek and Lyons [21]
within the first few flexes. It is not possible to have given a treatment based on the theory of
design a cheaper hinge to stand up to a few nucleation and growth of cracks.
hundred flexes, as the behaviour of such a It seems likely that all the mechanisms
hinge would be unpredictable, and it might fail indicated above - and others - do play a part in
immediately. It is believed that, during flexing, fatigue behaviour. More experimental work is
some orientation occurs within the material needed to clarify the subject further.
leading to greater strength in the required
directions. It may be noted that the operation 1. F. ]FRANKand R. w. SINGLETON, Textile ges. J.
of a hinge is a cumulative test in the sense used 34 (1964) 11.
in this paper: at each opening, a fresh extension 2. A. J. B O O T H and J. w. s. H E A R L E , "Proceedings
or energy shock is imposed on the specimen of Fourth International Congress on Rheology
which already contains any residual deforma- (1963)", vol. III (Wiley, 1965), p. 203.
tion from previous openings. Correct design 3. w. s. LYONS, Textile Res. J. 32 (1962) 750.
clearly demands that the hinge should rapidly 4. J. W . S. H E A R L E and rI. P L O N S K E R , J . Appl.
settle down to a stable limiting state with a Polymer Sci. 10 (1966) 1949.
minimum of distortion. 5. w . T. KELLY, Textile Res. J. 35 (1965) 852.
6. s. w. s. ~EARLE, ibid 36 (1966) 591.
4. Theories of Fatigue Behaviour 7. R. MEREDITrI,J. Textile Inst. 45 (1954) T30.
8. J. W. S. H E A R L E and A. O. N A T H , work in pro-
The discussion given earlier in this paper shows gress.
that, when dealing with imperfectly elastic 9. w.J. LYONS, Textile Res. or. 32 (1962) 448, 553, 750;
materials, it is necessary to separate out effects w. s. LYONSand D. c. PREVORSEK, ibid 35 (1965),
attributable to p o o r elastic recovery or to time- 73, 110, 217, 1048, 1106; idem, ibm 34 (1964) 271,
dependent deformation before seeing whether 88l, 1040; D. c. PREVORSE~, W. J. LYONS,
any special fatigue effects remain. Where this and J. c. WrlITWELL, ibM33 (1963) 963.
separation is not understood, experimental 10. R. C. W A L L E R and w. E. ROSEVEARE, Jr. Appl.
results can be confusing, as the pattern of Phys. 17 (1964) 482,
failure changes. Dischka [7] has described the 11. M. A. MINER, or. Appl. Mech. Trans. A S M E 67
(1945) A-159.
first form of failure mentioned above as ex-
12. L. E. NIELSEN, "Mechanical Properties of Poly-
hausting the capacity for deformation of the mers" (Reinhold, 1962).
material. 13. w. N. FINDLEY,Proe. A S T M 4 1 (1941) 1231.
Under some conditions which are not too 14. J. F. THROOP, M.Sc. thesis, Rensselaer Poly-
severe, and which in glassy polymers would technic Institute (1949).
be within the elastic range, there is evidence 15. J. M. ZAREK, British Plastics 30 (1957) 399.
J. W. S. H E A R L E

16. " 'Propathene' for Integral Hinges", pamphlet issued 19. w . s. LYONS, Textile Res. J. 28 (1958) 127.
by ICI (Plastics Division) Ltd (1965). 20. B. D. COLEMAN, J. Appl. Phys. 27 (1956) 862;
17. G. DISCI-IKA, Aeta Tech. Acad. Sei. Hungary 14 29 (1958) 968; B. D. COLEMAN and A. a . KNOX,
(1956) 79. Textile Res. Y. 27 (1957) 393.
18. V. A. KARGIN and G. L. SLONIMISK1, Doklady 21. D. C. PREVORSEK and w . J. LYONS, J. Appl.
Akad. Nauk U S S R 105 (1955) 751. Phys. 35 (1964) 3152.