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Fracture toughness

Fracture toughness is a property which describes the ability of a material containing a

crack to resist fracture, and is one of the most important properties of any material for
many design applications.
c critical stress for crack propagation
a crack length
Kc is the fracture toughness
Y is a dimensionless parameter, depends
on crack, specimen sizes and geometries,
application of load

Y = 1.0, for a plate of infinite width having

a through-thickness crack
Y = 1.1, for a plate of semi-infinite width
containing an edge crack of length a

Three modes of crack surface displacement

Mode I, opening
or tensile mode

Mode II, sliding mode

Mode III, tearing mode

Kc varies with sample thickness

When t >> a then Kc is independent of thickness: plane strain condition
plane strain fracture toughness KIc

Example-1: A specimen of a 4340 steel alloy having a plane strain fracture

toughness 54.8 of is exposed to a stress of 1030 Mpa. Will this specimen
experience fracture if it is known that the largest surface crack is 0.5 mm long? Why
or why not? Assume that the parameter Y has a value of 1.0.
a = 0.9 mm
Example-2: Spherical pressure vessel leak-before-break criterion is a = t where a is
one-half of internal crack length

Bad luck of Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic was caused primarily by the brittleness of the steel used
to construct the hull of the ship.
In the icy water of the Atlantic, the steel was below the ductile to brittle transition

Ductile to brittle transition

BCC metals become brittle at low temperature or at extremely high strain rate

The temperature at which a ductile materials behaves as a brittle materials is

called ductile to brittle transition temperature (Tc).

Low temperature dislocation motion is restricted (high activation energy)

High strain rate dislocation do not get sufficient time to move from one
position to another position

T > Tc y < f yielding before facture

T <= Tc y = f fracture at yield point

Example-3:The temperature and strain rate dependence of yield stress in MN m-2 for
molybdenum is given by

= 20.6 + + 61.3 log10

Where T is the temperature in kelvin and (d/dt) is the strain rate in S-1. Sharp cracks of
half-length 2 m are present in the metal. Estimate the temperature at which the ductile
to brittle transition occurs at a strain rate of 10-2 S-1 . Elastic modulus is 350 GN.m-2 and
specific surface energy is 2 J.m-2.

At T = Tc

= =

2 2

Fatigue is a form of failure that occurs in structures subjected to dynamic and
fluctuating stresses. e.g. bridges, aircraft etc.

Fatigue stress considerably less than the tensile or yield strength

for a static loading
About 90% of the metallic failures
Catastrophic in nature occur suddenly without warning

Applied stress tension and compression

flexural (bending)
torsional (twisting)

Categorized: Depending on the applied stress cycle

(a) Reverse stress cycle


m = 0
a = max = min
r = 2max = 2min

(b) Repeated stress cycle


Categorized: Depending on the applied stress cycle

(c) Random stress cycle

Some terminology
, =


, =

, =


, =

( )
( )

The SN curve
S = a = stress amplitude
Fatigue limit or endurance limit
Typically, for steel fatigue limits
range between 30-60% of tensile
strength (y)
Some ferrous (iron base) and titanium

Nf - Fatigue life

Number of cycles needed to

cause failure at a specified stress
Most nonferrous alloys
(e.g., aluminum, copper, magnesium)

Mechanism of fatigue failure

Crack initiation: small cracks forms at some point of high stress concentration typically
on the surfaces e.g. scratches, sharp fillets, key ways, threads, dents, slip steps etc.
Crack propagation: crack advances incrementally with each stress cycle; slow rate
- characterized by two types of markings termed beachmarks and striations

concentric ridges: period over

which crack growth occurred

advance distance of a crack front

during a single load cycle

Final failure: Occurs very rapidly once the advancing crack has reached a critical size
- this is either ductile or brittle

Factors that affect fatigue life -1

(a) Mean stress,
- Compressive stress
- Shot peening, case hardening

(b) Surface effects (quality of surface)

Notch, roughness, sharp corner

stress intensity rises
- Surface treatment coating,
polishing, notch free
- Improving design factors avoid
sharp transition

Factors that affect fatigue life - 2

(c) Environmental factors
A) Thermal fatigue:
- Dimensional mismatch expansion
- Temperature gradient

- materials with low thermal expansion
- improve design
B) Corrosion fatigue:
- Small pits chemical reaction
- Stress concentration crack nucleation site
- using protective coating
- reduces corrosiveness of the environment
- Impose residual compressive stress