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ME 831: Fracture Mechanics

Testing of
Dr. Atta ur Rehman Shah

Reference: T.L. Anderson, Fracture

Assistant Professor
Mechanics - Fundamentals and
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Applications HITEC University, Taxila – Pakistan
A fracture toughness test measures the resistance of a material
to crack extension.
Such a test may yield either a single value of fracture toughness
or a resistance curve, where a toughness parameter such as K, J,
or CTOD is plotted against the crack extension.

A variety of organizations throughout the world publish

standardized procedures for fracture toughness measurements,
including ASTM, BSI, ISO and JSME etc.

This chapter focuses primarily on ASTM standards, since they are

the most widely used throughout the world.

There are five types of specimens that are permitted in ASTM standards
that characterize fracture initiation and crack growth.

compact specimen disk-shaped compact specimen

middle tension (MT) specimen

arc-shaped specimen

single-edge-notched bend SE(B) specimen

Each specimen configuration has three important characteristic
dimensions: the crack length (a), the thickness (B) and the width (W).
In most cases, W = 2B and a/W ≈ 0.5.

There are a number of specimen configurations that are used in

research, but have yet to be standardized, which include the single-edge
notched tensile panel, the double-edge-notched tensile panel, the
axisymmetric-notched bar, and the double cantilever beam specimen.

The vast majority of fracture toughness tests are performed on either

compact or SE(B) specimens.

Comparison of the profiles of

compact and SE(B) specimens,
the compact geometry consumes
less material, but this specimen
requires extra material in the
width direction, due to the holes.

The compact specimen is pin-loaded by
special clevises, Compact specimens are
usually machined in a limited number of
sizes because a separate test fixture must
be fabricated for each specimen size.

The SE(B) specimen is more flexible with

respect to size. The standard loading span
for SE(B) specimens is 4W.

If the fixture is designed properly, the

span can be adjusted continuously to
any value that is within its capacity.
Thus, SE(B) specimens with a wide
range of dimensions can be tested with
a single fixture.

Engineering materials are seldom homogeneous and isotropic.
Microstructure, and thus, mechanical properties, are often sensitive to

A microstructure with a preferred orientation may contain planes of

weakness, where crack propagation is relatively easy.

All ASTM fracture testing standards require that the orientation be

reported along with the measured toughness; ASTM has adopted a
notation for this purpose.

The letters L, T, and S denote the
longitudinal, transverse, and short
transverse directions, respectively,
relative to the rolling direction or
forging axis.
The first letter indicates the direction
of the principal tensile stress, which
is always perpendicular to the crack
plane in Mode I tests, and the
second letter denotes the direction
of crack propagation.

A similar notation applies to round

bars and hollow cylinders, The
symmetry directions in this case are
circumferential, radial, and
longitudinal (C, R, and L, Ideally, one should measure the toughness of
respectively). a material in several orientations, but this is
often not practical. 7
The cracks machined in the laboratory testing specimens are usually
not as sharp as required, most efficient way to produce such a crack is
through cyclic loading.
A fatigue crack initiates at
the tip of a machined notch
and grows to the desired
size through careful control
of the cyclic loads.

In order for a fracture toughness measurement to reflect the true

material properties, the fatigue crack must satisfy the following
 The crack-tip radius at failure must be much larger than the
initial radius of the fatigue crack.
 The plastic zone produced during fatigue cracking must be
small compared to the plastic zone at fracture.
The load during a fracture toughness test is measured with the load
cells of testing machine while different characteristic displacements are
measured with additional instrumentation.

Schematic of a linear variable

Measurement of the crack-mouth-opening differential transformer (LVDT). Electric
displacement with a clip gage. current in the first coil induces a
magnetic field, which produces a
voltage in the second coil. Displacement
of the central core causes a variation in
the output voltage.

Potential drop method for

monitoring crack growth.
As the crack grows and the
net cross-sectional area
decreases, the effective
resistance increases,
resulting in an increase in
voltage (V ).

Simultaneous measurement of crack-

mouth-opening displacement (CMOD)
and load-line displacement on an SE(B)
specimen. The CMOD is inferred from a
clip gage attached to knife edges, while
the load-line displacement can be
determined from a comparison bar
arrangement; the bar and outer coil of
the LVDT remain fixed, while the inner
rod moves with the specimen.

In certain cases, grooves are machined into

the sides of a fracture toughness specimens.

The primary purpose of side grooving is to

maintain a straight crack front, and to avoid
crack tunneling and shear lip formation during
an R-curve test.

Typical side-grooved fracture toughness specimens have a net thickness

that is approximately 80% of the gross thickness. If the side grooves are
too deep, they produce lateral singularities, which cause the crack to
grow more rapidly at the outer edges.

Title: Standard Test Method for Plane Strain Fracture Toughness of
Metallic Materials
Four specimen configurations are permitted by the current version of E
399: the compact, SE(B), arc-shaped, and disk-shaped specimens.

If the plastic zone at fracture is too large, it is not possible to obtain a

valid KIc, regardless of how skilled the technician is.

ASTM E 399 recommends that the user perform a preliminary validity

check, the size requirements for a valid KIc are as follows:
 K Ic 
B, a  2.5  0.45  a W  0.55
  YS 
The user must make a rough estimate of the anticipated KIc for the
material from data for similar materials. If such data are not available, the
ASTM standard provides a table of recommended thicknesses for various
strength levels. 12
Three types of load-displacement curves may be obtained in the fracture
toughness tests.

PQ is the critical load,

and P5 is calculated
by constructing a line
of slope equal to 95%
of the initial elastic
loading slope.

The load PQ is then defined as follows: if the load at every point on the
record which precedes P5 is lower than P5, then P5 = PQ ; if, however,
there is a maximum load preceding P5 which exceeds it, then this
maximum load is PQ .
Once PQ is calculated, KQ is calculated as; KQ  f a W 

Where f (a/W) is a dimensionless function of a/W, which is defined in

polynomial form in the E 399 standard for the four specimen types.

The KQ = KIc , only if all validity requirements in the standard are met,
 K Ic 
Pmax  1.10 PQ 0.45  a W  0.55 B, a  2.5 
  YS 
When attempting to measure fracture toughness using ASTM E 399, one
runs the risk of invalid results due to the stringent size requirements.
Once a result is declared invalid, a more recent ASTM standard E 1820 may
be used. ASTM E 1820 is a generalized test method for fracture toughness
measurement that combines K, J, and CTOD parameters in a single