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A Path Independent Integral and the Approximate Analysis of Strain Concentration

by Notches and Cracks

J. R. Rice

In 1968, J. R Rice introduced a line integral called the J-integral, which has the same value for all integration
paths surrounding the tip of a notch in two- dimensional deformation fields of materials exhibiting linear or nonlinear
elastic behavior. The J-integral concept can be used in LEFM to calculate stress intensity factors in structures that do not
possess a closed form solution for stress intensity factor K and also for materials which exhibits elastic-plastic behavior.
The crack tip stress and displacement field can be uniquely characterized by K. The developed integral expression is a
path-independent line integral around the crack tip. The path independency of the expression allows calculation
along a contour remote from the crack tip. This is what makes the J-integral concept so attractive. The expression is as

J =

Here, Strain energy density W= 0 ; Traction vector = ; (Fig. 1)
is an arbitrary contour around the crack tip, n is unit vector; u is displacement; ,
are applied stress and strain. The material is considered as isotropic and homogeneous
elastic-plastic material.
Fig. 1 Contour around a flat surfaced notch
Calculating J integral: tip

J represents the rate of change of net potential energy with respect to crack advance
(per unit thickness of crack front). In this paper the integral expression has been
evaluated for different cases. Here are the couple of examples;
I. Semi-infinite notch (Fig. 2) is on the infinite strip of height h, load is applied
by clamping the two edges.
Fig. 2 Semi-infinite notch in a clamped strip
J= h (where W is a constant strain energy density)
II. Small notch in a large body (Fig. 3): Considering small scale yielding of a
narrow notch of length 2a in a very large body, the J is calculated as
(1 2 ) 2

This equation is the linear elastic energy-release rate given by Irwin and reflects the
fact that a small nonlinear zone at a notch tip negligibly affects the overall compliance
Fig. 3 A very narrow notch in a large body
of the whole body. This expression can be modified for three types of loading using
Evaluating the crack opening displacement:
KI, KII and KIII as elastic stress-intensity factors for the opening, in-plane sliding, and
The Author
anti-plane focused
sliding on the
modes, constancy of J integral, which requires a displacement
gradient singularity at the crack tip since stresses are bounded and the path may be
shrunk to zero length. To evaluate the displacement, a stress state is constructed right at
the tip satisfying the small yielding condition varying only with (Fig. 4). Anticipating
that the plastic region will be approximately symmetrical about the midline of the fan at

= 2 ; the crack opening displacement, t is expressed as,
2(1 2 ) 2 2 Fig. 4: Constant stress region A and B
t = (2+) = (2+)

Here, t is the total separation distance between upper and lower crack surfaces at the
tip due to strain singularity. is the shear stress acting on the crack of length 2a.

We can conclude saying that, J integral is an analytical tool to characterize the stress field at the crack tip under both elastic
and plastic deformation. The value of J depends on the stress state and the geometry of the crack. Path independence of the
integral offers a variety of opportunities for determining its value. Once J is calculated, it can be used to find strain
concentration for linear, non-linear and perfectly plastic materials.