Crack Tip Opening Displacement

Using Materials Testing to Control Cracks
By Tom Jarvie, Stork Southwestern Laboratories

Even the strongest and hardest-working materials on earth—pipes, drills,
munitions, girders—crack. A crack is the beginning of failure, but when and how
dramatically will the failure occur?
The world demands more—greater quantities of energy, taller buildings, longer
pipelines, faster and higher-flying aircraft. Material scientists have responded
with stronger and more durable metals, but every one, given the right set of
circumstances, will crack.
We know more and demand more of materials than ever before. Rather than
reacting to problems as they occur, more and more industries are choosing to be
proactive in failure prevention by testing materials properties beyond the normal
testing requirements. One such test that goes beyond traditional material
property analysis is the CTOD test, which is gaining popularity in the oil and gas
Crack Tip Opening Displacement (or CTOD) is one of a family of fracture
mechanics tests that measures the resistance of a material to growing a crack.
Similar tests (i.e., da/DN, K1C, KEE, and J1C) can determine fracture resistance
of a material, but CTOD is particularly suited to pipeline and drilling equipment.
The CTOD test is used to determine the fracture mechanics properties of ductile
materials and can be thought of as the simulated opening of a pre-existing
fatigue crack prior to fracture. The data that result from this opening can be used
for critical defect assessment, in which the critical defect size can be determined.
The Test
Please note that the following is a simplified version of the CTOD test process
and does not cover all aspects of the test, such as personalized testing
A CTOD test can be broken into 4 main steps:
1) Machining of the test specimen (Sample Machining);
2) Fatiguing of the specimen within specified limits (Pre-Cracking);
3) Breaking of the specimen under controlled conditions (Fracture);
4) Post analysis of the specimen and resultant data to obtain the CTOD
value (Data Analysis).
This document contains general information, no rights can be derived.
Crack Tip Opening Displacement, Tom Jarvie, Stork Southwestern Laboratories, Page 1 of 8

For structural and pipe materials used in the oil and gas industries. an actual fatigue crack is induced at the base of the starter notch. The overall length from the surface of the sample to This document contains general information. 2) Pre-Cracking On completion of machining of the specimen. the specimen is machined to include a notch. but not thicker. National standards are used for the actual testing criteria. This crack must be of sufficient length to bypass any area of plastic deformation that may have been occurred during the machining process. Crack Tip Opening Displacement. The calculation of the final CTOD value is dependent on the depth of a prefatigue crack from the surface of the specimen. the method of notch manufacture. the width of the notch. It is important to use the maximum thickness of specimen possible when performing the test. depending on the direction of the test. except where there is limited material or a surface notch needs to be evaluated.1) Sample Machining Unlike other destructive material tests. Stork Southwestern Laboratories. which will act as the initiation point of the fatigue crack and be included in the overall length of the fatigue crack used for the calculation of the CTOD value. The crack length is typically based on the size of the sample. The various testing specifications have their own nomenclature to describe the sample and notch direction in respect to the grain flow or weld direction. no rights can be derived. then the results can be extrapolated to apply to thinner sections. the most commonly used specimens are a rectangular three-point bend or a square threepoint bend. As a general rule. As it is impractical to fatigue a crack from the actual specimen surface. As with other destructive material tests. The rectangular three-point bend is preferable. but the specimen size can also affect the results. Page 2 of 8 . Not only is the test temperature a variable. if a material meets the CTOD test requirements at a given test size. the CTOD test has multiple factors that can affect the resultant value. This nomenclature is typically the same as that of a charpy test. as well as the conditions in which the result can be used. the CTOD value can vary. the shape of the notch. and practical time restraints. Tom Jarvie.

then a plastic zone may result which would affect the CTOD result—or.the crack tip must fall within given parameters. at the extreme. Crack Tip Opening Displacement. This relationship determines the stress intensity factor (K) at the fatigue crack tip. B and S remain constant. Other factors that also must be considered include the angle of the crack in respect to the specimen and the difference in length of the crack as seen on the exposed surfaces. To initiate and grow a fatigue crack for a CTOD test. W the specimen width and a the crack length].7 )) W W W W W2 (1) 2a a 2(1 + )(1 − )1. including: a minimum to maximum load ratio of less than 0. This document contains general information. Stork Southwestern Laboratories. W.93 + 2. Initiation and propagation of a fatigue crack is dependent on the configuration of the sample. again at the extreme. The equation demonstrates a definitive relationship between the crack length. Tom Jarvie. then the fatigue time may become restrictive—or. Fatiguing the sample requires a minimum and maximum fatigue load. B the specimen thickness. F is the load. If the loads are too high. and a maximum load based on the material tensile properties. the crack length and the loading conditions. no rights can be derived. Page 3 of 8 . During the fatigue operation.1.7 a 2 ) (1. a crack may not develop. The operation is typically performed in air at room temperature. and can be determined for a three-point bend by the following formula: K= FS x B (W )1.15 − 3.5 a a a 2 . specimen size and span used. The national standards specify criteria to ensure a valid test sample. various methods can be used. S the span.99 − ( )(1 − )(2. If the loads selected to induce the fatigue crack are too low. a change in stress intensity relating to the modulus of the material. load and stress intensity. the sample may fracture prematurely.5 W W [Where K is the stress intensity factor.5 3( a 0.

By starting with a high K and reducing it as the crack extends. 50. In order to meet the validity requirements imposed by the specifications.4. the crack growth rate would increase as the length increased. c) Constant K.00 0.00 Load (kN 30. This method can result in an extended time to grow the crack of the required length. During the fatiguing of a CTOD sample. b) Decreasing Load. a given number of fatigue cycles would be needed to initiate the crack again. Done carefully. By calculating the load restrictions for a given crack length. it is not the most practical.350 0. As a result. As such. Crack Tip Opening Displacement. no rights can be derived. but it should be noted that reducing the load by too great an amount can result in the crack propagation slowing or even stopping.000 40. From the equation it can be seen that by keeping the change in stress intensity constant. the load ratio selected would have to be determined based on the final crack length.00 10.00 0 0.00 45.550 6. Using this method. such as: a) Visual measurement can be made on the sample. the relationship between the crack length. Tom Jarvie.000 Crack Length (m It is possible to combine aspects of the three methods to further increase to efficiencies of the crack propagation. only the crack length at the outer surface can be determined.000 Cycles Estimate Tracking the actual crack length can be done in a number of ways. 12 10 50. Stork Southwestern Laboratories. one can reduce the time necessary to grow a crack while keeping within the specification requirements. nondestructive testing techniques such as dye penetrant or magnetic permeability work well. In this case.5 b) E1290 0. However.00 4 15.00 20.300 Crack Length mm 0 5.00 40. however. Page 4 of 8 .500 a/W 6. it would be slow in the initial stages of crack length.5 a) 0.00 25. This method will result in an even load drop as the crack grows and will prevent the crack arrest that can occur when method b is used.600 14 Delta-P N 2 10. S.400 0. A constant load amplitude ( load ) is the most common situation.000 20. This document contains general information.00 16 26 14 24 12 22 10 20 8 18 6 16 Load 35. the load will drop proportionally as the crack length increases. this can save time in obtaining valid fatigue crack front.a) Constant Load. load and stress intensity can be utilized in the growth of a fatigue crack. it is possible to start the fatigue operation with a high load and decrease it to the limits required as the crack grows.000 30. To enhance the crack.450 0. W and B will remain constant.00 0.4. for the purposes of growing a fatigue crack for a CTOD test.

straightness and the absence of any obvious surface bifurcations. Page 5 of 8 .b) The compliance technique depends on a 5th order polynomial in which the coefficients are based on the specimen geometry and material properties. This document contains general information. a clip gage is attached to the sample at the machined opening and electronically records the opening that is then related to the crack length. based on the method decided for the crack growth. therefore it is important to control the temperature throughout the test. While performing the fatigue operation. In these cases. Crack Tip Opening Displacement. c) The potential drop across the crack depends on ohm’s law: as a crack grows the potential will increase. it is important to remember that only the outer surface can be measured and confirmed. 3) Fracture The actual breaking of the specimen is performed under monotonic conditions. various operations may be necessary to produce a linear crack front. Fractures can be affected by temperature. and as such the length cannot be visually confirmed until the test is complete and the sample fractured open. Typically. As with the compliance technique. resulting in a smooth load drop. and at a static temperature. The fatigue is propagating across a plane inside the sample. The compliance and potential drop techniques can provide information about the internal situation of the fatigue crack. in a weldment. i. The recorded length can then be used to automatically adjust the load. which means that the sample is under increasing load until fracture. the visible crack front must be visually examined to ensure compliance to the specification. this method can be directly associated with the load control and hence give a smooth load transition. Testing in a liquid alcohol bath with CO2 as a cooling medium is one of the most common methods to achieve this. no rights can be derived. Precompression of the sides of the sample and reverse bending are two of the most common techniques employed. Stork Southwestern Laboratories.g. Tom Jarvie. Variance in length across the fatigue crack front increases in materials in which an even stress distribution is not present. On completion of the fatigue operation. within length tolerances from the surface and between sides. e.e.

This opening is plotted against the load applied. it is not possible to confirm the actual testing rate until completion of the test. and the load then recovers to exceed the initial condition. a clip gage is used to measure the opening at the mouth of the fatigue crack. If deemed valid. scientists perform various operations to determine the CTOD type and value. Page 6 of 8 . Tom Jarvie. or both is observed. During the application of the load. however. In this situation. Three main categories of fracture exist: a) m – in which the fracture face exhibits tearing and the final fracture occurs under decreasing load b) u – in which the fracture face exhibits tearing and the final fracture occurs under increasing load c) c – in which the fracture face does not exhibit tearing and the final fracture occurs under increasing load A 4th type of failure can occur which is known as a pop-in. When a pop-in occurs. the remaining ligand is sufficient to withstand the increase in load. Since the crack length is not measurable until the sample is fractured. the crack mouth opening.The rate of testing is determined by the change in the stress intensity factor during the initial application of load. An estimated crack length must be used to determine the testing rate—with the actual test rate confirmed to be with in the validation limits. The fracture face must be examined in conjunction with the plot of the load vs. the stress intensity is dependent on the load and crack length. From this. This document contains general information. Crack Tip Opening Displacement. a displacement increase. either a load drop. the material has partially fractured. the final calculation of the CTOD value is based on the load and displacement at the pop-in occurrence. As was seen in the equation. the type of fracture can be determined. The validity of the pop-in is evaluated based on the changes in load and/or displacement. It is often possible to see the cause of the pop-in on the fracture face. 5) Data Analysis After the sample has been fractured. Stork Southwestern Laboratories. no rights can be derived.

Crack Tip Opening Displacement.5 4. S the span.0 2. W the specimen width.8 1.0 1.7 a 2 ⎤ a 0 . 7 )) − − − + 2 ⎢ FS W W W W W 2 ⎥⎥ x ⎡ (1 − v ) ⎤ + ⎡ 0.0 0.The length of the fatigue fracture and any tearing (in the case of a u type fracture only) should be measured. F is the load.0 1.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 0. Stork Southwestern Laboratories.5 2.0 Opening Opening m pop-in 45 50 40 45 40 35 35 30 30 Load Load 25 25 20 20 15 15 10 10 5 5 0 0 0.0 0. u 50 45 45 40 40 35 35 30 30 Load Load c 50 25 25 20 20 15 15 10 10 5 5 0 0 0. Page 7 of 8 .2 0.6 0.4 0. Vp the plastic component corresponding to the load at the critical event.5 1.2 1.0 0.5 W W ⎦⎥ ⎣⎢ where δ is the CTOD. a the crack length.5 3. This document contains general information.0 2 1. Tom Jarvie.5 1. 93 2 . the maximum load and the plastic component (Vp) of the crack opening is determined for use in the CTOD calculation. B the specimen thickness.5 a a a 3 ( ) ( 1 .4 1.0 4. 15 3 .6a + z ⎦ ⎢ BW 2(1 + )(1 − )1.5 2 2. z is the clip gage height and σYS is the yield at test temperature.5 ⎥ 2a a ⎥ ⎣ 2σ YS E ⎦ ⎣ 0. The CTOD value is calculated from the following formula: 2 ⎡ 2. v the poison’s ratio.4W + 0.4(W − a )Vp ⎤ (2) δ =⎢ x ⎢ ⎥ ⎢ 1. The fatigue crack length is used in the CTOD calculation.0 3. 99 ( )( 1 )( 2 .5 Opening Opening From the plot. no rights can be derived.6 1 0.

It is possible to have a result with a sufficient value to meet the specification requirement. but. A value may be obtained. Similarly. the validity of the result must also be evaluated. but still have an invalid test. As discussed above. the test must also be valid. your result may be lower than required with an invalid test. some of the validity requirements of the CTOD test cannot be determined until the test is completed.6) The Final Result When the graphical data has been analyzed. no rights can be derived. there may be a minimum value of CTOD and/or type of fracture restrained. In these cases. Stork Southwestern Laboratories. the result obtained should not be used and the test should be repeated. Crack Tip Opening Displacement. the sample measured and examined. Page 8 of 8 . Tom Jarvie. and the CTOD value calculated. This document contains general information.