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Fatigue Crack Propagation of Short Cracks

Article in Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology · January 1979

DOI: 10.1115/1.3443647


282 1,154

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Tim Topper
University of Waterloo


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Fatigue Crack Propagation of Short Cracks
Research Assistant. Previous studies have shown that both threshold stress intensity factors and fatigue
crack growth rates are dependent on crack size. The average growth rates for very short
K. N. SMITH cracks considerably exceed those given by conventional stress intensity-crack growth
laws fitted to long crack data. Elastic and elastic plastic fracture mechanics solutions
Associate Professor.
are modified to predict this behavior of short cracks by introducing an effective crack
length U into the solutions for intensity factors and the J integral method of analysis.
T. H. TOPPER The threshold stress at a very short crack length approaches the fatigue limit of the ma-
terial, and therefore the value of k can be obtained once the threshold stress intensity
factor and the fatigue limit are known. The accuracy of the term k in predicting crack
Department of Civil Engineering, growth rates for short cracks is found to be independent of the applied strain level. It
University of Waterloo, varies linearly with the grain size of the material and can be considered at the surface
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
as a measure of the reduced flow resistance of surface grains due to their lack of con-

Introduction short cracks tended towards that predicted from growth laws
based on long cracks for crack depths greater than about (0.13
Most experimental studies to determine fatigue crack growth mm) but that the average crack growth rates for very short
rates and threshold stress intensity factors have considered large cracks were much faster than would be predicted by these laws.
cracks and usually large through cracks. Very often in actual Dowling [5], also observed that short cracks (less then 0.18 mm
fatigue fractures, however, the fracture process is dominated by in length) had fatigue crack growth rates much higher than
the initiation and growth of very small cracks. The importance those predicted from data for longer cracks. Schijve and Jacobs
of small cracks, from both scientific and practical view points, [6-7] found that crack extension measurements for small cracks
has recently been recognized and there is substantial evidence in both notched and smooth specimens gave different crack
that in some cases small cracks do not follow the crack growth growth rates than those predicted by long crack data.
laws derived from larger cracks. Kitagawa and Takahashi [l]1
found that nonpropagation of a surface crack could be related
to a constant threshold stress intensity factor for surface crack Fracture Mechanics Solutions for Fatigue Cracks
lengths larger than 0.50 mm. Below this size a transition oc-
Linear Elastic Solutions. The following expression is proposed
curred in which a stress equal to the fatigue limit rather than the
for the elastic stress intensity factor of a crack of an effective
threshold stress intensity became the critical condition for
length (I + k)
propagation of very small flaws. Frost [2] found the parameter
(s3l) where S is the applied stress amplitude useful in analyzing AK = ASVTT(.1 + k) (1)
short crack data. He concluded that this parameter had a critical
value below which even if cracks formed, they would not propa- where AS is the applied nominal stress range, and Z0 is a constant
gate. He also suggested that for stresses above the fatigue limit, for a given material and material condition. The threshold stress
the crack length I cannot be chosen arbitrarily, but must have a at a very short crack length will approach the fatigue limit of
limited minimum size of the order of the grain size. Based on the material (Aae), based on small smooth specimens, and from
Neuber's [3] stress concentration factor for an elliptical notch, equation (1) the threshold stress intensity AKut can be obtained
Levy in a discussion given in reference [2] derived an expression
to determine the minimum propagating stress; he assumed that
the crack would just propagate if the plain fatigue limit was AKth = AO-.VTTZO (2)
reached at its tip. Pearson [4] found that the growth rate for

\ A(7, J TT

' N u m b e r s i n brackets designate References a t end of p a p e r . At any crack of an effective length (I + k), the threshold
C o n t r i b u t e d by t h e Materials Division a n d presented a t t h e A S M E /
stress Aaa is then obtained as:
C S M E J o i n t Pressure Vessel and Piping Conference, M o n t r e a l , C a n a d a , J u n e
2 5 - 3 0 , 1978, of T H E AMERICAN SOCIETY OP M E C H A N I C A L E N G I N E E B I N G . Manu- AKa
script'received b y t h e Materials Division November 28, 1977; revised m a n u - Ao-,t (4)
script received F e b r u a r y 15, 1978. Paper No. 78-Mat-7. Vir(l + k)

42 / V o l . 101, J A N U A R Y 1979 Transactions of the ASME

Copyright © 1979 by ASME

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As the crack length decreases, the length Z0 constitutes an in- 40
creasing fraction of the effective length until at very short
lengths it represents the crack length at which the fatigue limit -
stress can propagate a crack into the interior of the specimen.
Also the stress intensity defined by equation (1) predicts higher g
crack propagation rates for short cracks than the more usual ' 0 32
representation of stress intensity which deletes the term U. P
The following paragraph examines its relationship to mechanical ^^
and metallurgical variables and its ability to correlate experi- .28
mental threshold and short crack results. / R - 0
Frost [2, 8] performed a series of experiments on steel and _J
aluminum alloys in which he initiated short cracks at notches
and then machined away the notches and determined the ^20 -
threshold stress levels for the cracks. Figs. 1 and 2 reproduce u
Frost's results [2, 8] together with the theroretical curves given

by equation (4). Agreement of the predictions of equation (4) LOW CARBON STEEL
and the test data are very good indicating that the equation REFERENCE (12)
adequately describes the effect of proximity of the crack tip
to the specimen surfaces on threshold stress intensity. If we
assume that for steels, the fatigue limit is reasonably approxi-
mated by the cyclic yield stress or approximately half the ulti-
mate tensile strength [9-11], and that the cyclic yield stress is 4
approximately proportional to the yield stress (note that this
approximation ignors cyclic hardening and softening) the rela- i L 1 1 1 1
40 80 120 160 200
tionship of U with grain size can be established. Estimating U
using equation (3) by substituting values of AKtk and <rv from GRAIN SIZE d (pm)
Fig. 3
experimental results given in reference [12] gives values of U R e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n effective c r a c k l e n g t h k a n d g r a i n size, d
equal to a constant multiplied by the grain size d. Fig. 3 which


0.2 as 1.0 1.4 0.20 0.60 10 1.4
? , mm
.01 0.10 1 10
1 1 1 1


{ ^""~""-w

1.0 - REFERENCE ( 2 ) MILD STEEL 30 3.4 58 42 4£ 30 3.4 3 * 4.2 4£
(a) (b)

Fig. 4 A l u m i n u m alloy BSL65. Fatigue crack p r o p a g a t i o n curves for

1 1 1 1 long and short c r a c k s .
0.0002 0.001 0.01 0.10 1.0
( , in.
Fig. 1 Effect of crack length on threshold stress a m p l i t u d e f o r f a t i g u e
crack growth in m i l d steel
gives the experimental data from reference [12] together with
this linear relationship confirms that lo varies linearly with grain
size for this steel. To examine the ability of the term 4 to cor-
t, mm relate short crack results, data from reference [4] are given in
Fig. 4(a). Results for crack lengths less than (0.50 mm), have
higher crack growth rates than predicted by the long crack trend
as shown in Fig. 4(a), but if equation (1) is used to correlate short
b crack results the discrepancy between short and longer crack re-
sults is eliminated as shown in Fig. 4(6). So far the constant U
has been defined empirically in terms of the threshold stress in-
111 tensity and the fatigue limit without advancing a model for its
significance in the crack propagation process'—since its length
exceeds the plastic zone size, it cannot be direct measure of the
O • PREOICTEO THRESHOLD STRESS fracture process zone, but it can be considered at the surfaces
•£. 10 b
< as a measure of the reduced flow resistance of surface grains due
K •H to their lack of constraint [13].

Elastic Plastic Solutions. In recent years, several attempts

.0002 0.01 0.10
have been made to extend linear elastic fracture mechanics into
CRACK LENGTH X, in the elastic plastic regime by expressing the stress intensity in
Fig. 2 Effect of crack length on threshold stress a m p l i t u d e for fatigue
terms of strain and length rather than stress and length [14-17].
crack growth in a l u m i n u m alloy Rewriting equation (1) in a similar manner gives:

Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology JANUARY 1979, V o l . 101 / 43

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AiT = EAeVir{l + k) (5) AK MPs -M
where Ae and E are the strain ranges and Young's modulus,
respectively. The term U, which is again included in equation REFERENCE 0 6 1 10* 500
(5) to modify the propagation rates for short cracks, is assumed y OFHC COPPER
to be independent of the applied strain level (the accuracy of

this assumption will be discussed later in this paper). Boettner 10 E A£
E o 0.01
[14] and McEvilly [15] studied the low cycle fatigue of copper ^6« A 0.10

and determined crack propagation rates from striation spacing o 0.05

measurements. McEvily's results [15] are well described by 9 0.02
o 0.01 5«l6 l«IO"5
equation (5) as shown in Fig. 5(a). (Note that these results are / o 0.005
80 10s 500
for long cracks, and therefore the good agreement given in this a 0.002 AK. KSI •Tn.
» 0.001 _ 10
figure only indicates the accuracy of expressing the intensity (b)
factors in terms of strain rather than stress to correct for plas- ib»
ticity.) Other long crack results taken from reference [16] and
AK, KSI Jfii.
given in Fig. 5(b) indicate the accuracy of this approach in
accounting for the effect of plasticity. Rau, Gemma, and (a)

Leverant [17] also found that, for different strain ranges in ther- Fig. 5 F a t i g u e crack growth rates as a f u n c t i o n of intensity factor AK
mal fatigue under various strain temperature cycles and iso-
thermal low cycle fatigue, the crack growth rates depended only AJ.m- MN/m a
QOOtz 0.001 ,0t
on the range of an intensity factor based on the strain. They

found this approach to be applicable to a wide range of crack
growth rates of practical importance.
Another important development during the past ten years
A 333ti STEEL
has been the " / integral" method of analysis. As originated by REFERENCE (5)
Rice [18] the / integral is analogous to the strain energy release *
rate 0, except that it is based on nonlinear rather than linear
elasticity. Thus for small scale yielding, J reduces to 0, which
is in turn directly and simply related to K. For elastic plastic o
m <s % i
material J" retains physical significance as a measure of the in-
tensity of the characteristic crack tip strain field and can be ii<5 9 A t *
expressed in terms of the strain concentration. Dowling [5, 19,
20] attempted to analyze fatigue crack propagation rates in
terms of the / integral for several kinds of specimens, i.e., 3

-K 1 *
central cracked specimens, compact specimens and smooth O o 0.04
specimens. He superimposed the elastic-plastic data described • D 0.02
£10 & & & 0.012
by the J integral on elastic data based on linear elastic fracture # 0 0.009
mechanics. Results based on his solution [5] for the J integral #>$ 0.003
# OPEN SYMBOLS la0.007in.
for cracked smooth specimens are given in Fig. 6, which shows • * (0.1778mm)
that data for crack lengths less than 0.18 mm indicate higher
J I t
crack growth rates than those predicted by the long crack trend. 10 10s to 3
To avoid this discrepancy between short and long crack results A d , in.-HVin?
solutions for the J integral will be modified to account for the Fig. 6 C o m p a r i s o n of s m a l l crack d a t a w i t h long c r a c k results for
behavior of short fatigue cracks. A533 B steel

In making an estimate for the / integral for a smooth specimen

containing a crack, linear elastic and exponential hardening A J m-MM/m*
0.001 OQ
plastic cases will be considered separately and then combined ^ 1 r-r 1 r
~ J-!
to approximate elastic plastic stress strain behavior [5, 21]. A 5 3 3 B STEEL
The / integral was developed for nonlinear elastic materials, OUTO FROM 10 TESTS, 15 CRKKS Id 4
and for such materials can be expressed in terms of the potential
energy available for crack extension. For the special case of !
linear elastic materials, J reduces to the strain energy release # a
rate, G. Assuming plane stress, Je, for the elastic case is simply mam
related to K and E as follows: IW * KT9

AJ. = G = (6)
Consider the case of a smooth specimen containing a crack and
';I; i
applied stress range, Acr, —the stress intensity is expressed as
»ppmw. a «
follows: e o 0.04
B • 0.02
& 6 0.012
AK = AoVjr(Z + k). (7) * 0 0.009
# Q 0.003
From the last two equations A/ s is: MjPB:N snmoua -ftf'
I , 0.007 la.
(0.1773 mm)
Ao*ir(l + Zo)
A/„ = E
,<KSP> i
.. ', • • •& ' r—»
AJ, i n - l b / i n *
Fig. 7 Fatigue c r a c k growth r a t e s as a f u n c t i o n of AJ given by e q u a -
AJe = 2wWe(l + k) (9) tion (13)

44 / Vol. 101, J A N U A R Y 1979 Transactions of the ASME

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tained based on values of strain, a definite relationship between
A K * / E i r ( l + ! 0 ) , MPa
! AK and A J must exist for a given material. To obtain values
10 K>
describing this relationship, solutions for A J based on equation
(13) and solutions for AK based on equation (5) were calculated
for different strain levels for Canadian Standards association
G 4 0 . l l steel. Fig. 8 which plots the resulting values of A J versus
JZ AK shows t h a t the relationship between AK and A J is adequately
described by equation (6) except at strain ranges greater than
3Ae„, where ey is the yield strain.

1 Elastic as well as elastic-plastic fracture mechanics solu-
tions are modified to predict the behavior of short cracks by
introducing an effective crack length l0 into the solutions for
intensity factors and the J integral. The threshold stress a t a
very short crack lengths approaches the fatigue limit of the ma-
AKs/Ew(H-J0)-EA8tKSI terial, and therefore the term U can be obtained once the thresh-
Fig. 8 Relationship between AJ integral and &K old stress intensity factor and the endurance limit are known.
2 The accuracy of the term lo in predicting higher crack rates
for short cracks is independent of the applied strain levels based
on limited d a t a is appears to vary linearly with grain size for a
where We is the elastic strain energy density, {Aa'1/2E).
given material and might be considered at the surface as a meas-
An approximate solution for Jp for the exponential hardening ure of the reduced flow resistance of surface grains due to their
plastic case will be used which is based on an estimate t h a t has lack of constraint.
been made by Shih and Hutchinson [21] for tension loaded
3 The relationship between AK defined by equation (5) and
cracked members.
A J defined by equation (13) is adequately described by equa-
AJp = 2irf(n)Wp(l + k) (10) tion (6) except at strain ranges greater than 3Ae„.

where f(n) is a function of the strain hardening exponent n [21]

and Wp is the plastic strain energy density. Following Dowling References
[5] both stress (ACT) and plastic strain ranges (Ae„) will be used 1 Kitagawa, H., and Takahashi, S., "Application of Frac-
to estimate Wp. Using an expression for Wp given in reference ture Mechanics to Very Small Cracks or the Cracks in the Early
[5] equation (10) can be rewritten as: Stage," 2nd International Conference on Mechanical Behaviour
of Materials, Boston, Mass., Aug. 1976, pp. 627-630.
2 Frost, N. E., "A Relation Between the Critical Alternating
AJp = 2jtf(n) ^ ^ (I + Z.) (11) Propagating Stress and Crack Length for Mild Steel," Proceed-
n + 1 ings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Vol. 173, No. 35,
London, 1959, pp. 811-835.
Adding equation (9) to equation (11), an approximate elastic 3 Neuber, H., Theory of Notch Stresses, J. S. Edwards, Ann
plastic solution for J is obtained as follows: Arbor, Mich., 1946.
4 Pearson, S., "Initiation of Fatigue Cracks in Commercial
Aluminium Alloys and the Subsequent Propagation of Very
" = -<<+<•> |0?)+ ( ^ > » > (12) Short Cracks," Engineering Fracture Mechanics, Vol. 7, 1975, pp.
5 Dowling, N. E., "Crack Growth During Low Cyclic
Since the plastic strain range Ae,, is equal to the total strain Fatigue of Smooth Axial Specimens," Scientific Paper 76-1E7-
range, Ae, minus the total elastic strain range, Aa/E, the last PALFA-P2, Westinghouse Research Laboratories, Pittsburgh,
equation reduces t o : Pennsylvania, 15235, June, 1976, also see ASTM-STP 637,
American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, 1978.
AaAeE) f 2/(») 6 Schijve, J., and Jacobs, F. A., "Fatigue Crack Propaga-
A J = 2TT(Z + I,
\n + 1 E j n + 1 '}£)
(13) tion in Unnotched and Notched Aluminum Alloy Specimens,"
National Aerospace Laboratory, Amsterdam, May, 1964, N L R -
T R M2128.
Equation (13) gives the J integral solution for a cracked smooth 7 Schijve, J., "Significance of Fatigue Crack in Micro-Range
and Macro-Range," Fatigue Crack Propagation, ASTM S T P 415,
specimen. In this equation U, n, and/(?i) are known constants for American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, 1966,
a given material. The term U which predicts the behavior of pp. 415-459.
short cracks is assumed to be independent of the applied strain 8 Frost, N. E., "Notch Effects and the Critical Alternating
levels. To examine the accuracy of equation (13), the data of Stress Required to Propagate a Crack in an Aluminum Alloy
Fig. 6 are reanalyzed based on equation (13) and plotted in Subject to Fatigue Loading," Journal of Mechanical Engineering
Science, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1960, pp. 109-119.
Fig. 7 which indicates the accuracy of this equation; particularly, 9 Moore, H. F., and Kommers, J. B., The Fatigue of Metals,
it should be noticed that the discrepancy between short and McGraw-Hill, New York, 1927.
long crack results is eliminated as shown in Fig. 7. Note also 10 Grover, H. J., Gordon, S. A., and Jackson, L. R., "Fatigue
that the accuracy of the term k in predicting higher crack rates of Metals and Structures," U. S. Government Printing Office,
Washington 25, D.C., Revised June 1, 1960, Narweps 00-25-534.
for short cracks is independent of the applied strain level.
11 Votorec, F . H., and Lazan, B. J., "Revised of Previous
Work on shorttime tests for Predicting Fatigue Properties of
Materials," Wright Air Development Center Technical Report,
Relationship Between AJ Integral and AK 53-122, Aug. 1953.
12 Masounave, J., and Bailon, J. P., "Effect of Grain Size on
For small scale yielding, J reduces to O and can be obtained the Threshold Stress Intensity Factor In Fatigue of a Ferritic
in terms of the elastic stress intensity factor K using equation Steel," Scripta Metallurgica, Vol. 10, 1976, pp. 165-170.
(6). For an elastic plastic case, J retains physical significance 13 Luther, R. G., and Williams, T. R. G., "Fatigue Crack
as a measure of the intensity of the characteristic crack tip strain Initiation Processes in Mild Steel," Fatigue 1977, C o n f e r e n c e -
University of Cambridge, England, Mar. 1977.
field [18-20], and can be expressed in terms of a strain concen- 14 Boettner, R. C , Laird, C , and McEvily, A. J., "Crack
tration. Since solutions for AK given by equation (5) are ob- Nucleation and Growth in High Strain Low Cycle Fatigue,"

Journal of Engineering Materials and Technology J A N U A R Y 1979, V o l . 101 / 45

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'Transactions of the Metallurgical Society of AIME, Vol. 233, proximate Analysis of Strain Concentration by Notches and
1965, pp. 379-387. Cracks," ASME Journal of Applied Mechanics, June 1968, pp.
15 McEvily, A. J., "Fatigue Crack Growth and the Strain 379-386.
Intensity Factor," Proceedings of Air Force Conference on Fatigue 19 Dowling, N. E., and Begley, J. A., "Fatigue Crack Growth
and Fracture of Aircraft Structures and Materials, A F F D L - T l l During Gross Plasticity and the J-Integrai," Mechanics of Crack
70-144, p. 451.' Growth, ASTM S T P 590, American Society of Testing and Ma-
16 Solomon, H. D., "Low Cycle Fatigue Crack Propagation terials, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 82-103.
in 1018 Steel," Journal of Materials, JMLSA, Vol. 7, No. 3, Sept. 20 Dowling, N. E., "Geometry Effects and the J-Integral
1972, pp. 299-306. Approach to Elastic-Plastic Fatigue Crack Growth," Cracks and
17 Rau, C. A., Jr., Gemma, A. E., and Leverant, G. R., Fracture, ASTM S T P 601, American Society of Testing and Ma-
"Thermal Mechanical Fatigue Crack Propagation in Nickel and terials, Philadelphia, 1976, pp. 19-32.
Cobalt Base Superalloys Under Various Strain Temperature 21 Shin, C. F., and Hutchinson, J. W., "Fully Plastic Solu-
Cycles," Fatigue at Elevated Temperature, ASTM S T P 520, tions and Large Scale Yielding Estimating for Plane Stress Crack
American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, June, Problems," Division of Engineering and Applied Physics-
pp. 166-178. Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., 02138, Report No.
18 Rice, J. R., "A P a t h Independent Integral and the Ap- DEAP-S-14, July 1975.

(Preliminary Announcement)
1979 Winter Annual Meeting of ASMK
Statler-Hilton Hotel, N.Y., N.Y. Dec. 2-7
Sponsored by Applied Mechanics Division,
Materials Division and Research Committee
On Effects of Irradiation

Organized by Joint A M D - M D Committee on Constitutive Equations and Research Committee on Effects of


The goal of the Symposium is to foster communication and ecxhange of information between workers in the
fields of theoretical and applied mechanics, materials and design engineering. Topics will include: • design re-
quirements and needs • analytical/computational techniques • material property representation, and • theo-
retical models—for both irradiated and unirradiated base materials.

For information contact:

Dr. D. L. Harrod Prof. E. Krempl
Westinghouse R&D Center School of Engineering
1310 Beulah Road Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Pittsburgh, PA 15235 Troy, N Y 12181
(412-256-3540) (518-270-6546)

46 / Vol. 101, JANUARY 1979 Transactions of the ASME

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