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# ME 831: Fracture Mechanics

10
Fatigue Crack
Propagation

## Reference: T.L. Anderson, Fracture atta.shah@hitecuni.edu.pk

Assistant Professor
Mechanics - Fundamentals and
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Applications HITEC University, Taxila – Pakistan
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SIMILITUDE IN FATIGUE
The concept of similitude, when it applies, provides the
theoretical basis for fracture mechanics.

## Similitude implies that in the case of a stationary crack, two

configurations will fail at the same critical K value, provided an
elastic singularity zone exists at the crack tip

## Under certain conditions, fatigue crack growth can also be

characterized by the stress-intensity factor, as discussed next.

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SIMILITUDE IN FATIGUE
Consider a growing crack
in the presence of a
constant amplitude cyclic
stress intensity.

## It is convenient to express the

functional relationship for crack
growth in the following form:

∆K = (Kmax − Kmin)
 f1 K , R 
da
R = Kmin/Kmax
dN
da/dN = crack growth per cycle
The influence of the plastic zone and plastic wake on crack
growth is implicit in the above Equation, since the size of the
plastic zone depends only on Kmin and Kmax.
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SIMILITUDE IN FATIGUE
If Kmin and Kmax varies during cyclic loading, the crack growth in a
given cycle may depend on the loading history as well as the
current values of Kmin and Kmax :

 f 2 K , R, H 
da
dN

## where H indicates the history dependence, which results from

prior plastic deformation.

## The above Equation violates the similitude assumption; two

configurations cyclically loaded at the same ∆K and R will not
exhibit the same crack growth rate unless both configurations are
subject to the same prior history.

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SIMILITUDE IN FATIGUE
Fatigue crack growth analyses become considerably more
complicated when prior loading history is taken into account,
hence the dependence on H is neglected whenever possible.

## Excessive plasticity during fatigue can violate similitude, since K

no longer characterizes the crack-tip conditions in such cases, J
can replace K as:

 f 3 J , R 
da
dN

## This Equation is valid in the case of constant amplitude fatigue in

small-scale yielding because of the relationship between J and K
under linear elastic conditions. The validity of the above Equation
in the presence of significant plasticity is less clear, however.

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EMPIRICAL FATIGUE CRACK GROWTH EQUATIONS

## A schematic log-log plot of da/dN vs. ∆K is shown in the following

figure, which illustrates typical fatigue crack growth behavior in metals.

The curve contains three region, the intermediate region is linear, but
the crack growth rate deviates from the linear trend at high and low ∆K
levels.
At the low end, da/dN
approaches zero at a
threshold ∆K, below which
the crack will not grow.

## In some materials, the

observed growth rate
increases rapidly at high ∆K
values; either due to Kmax
approaching Kc or due to the
influence of crack tip
plasticity.
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EMPIRICAL FATIGUE CRACK GROWTH EQUATIONS

## The linear region of the log-log plot in can be described by a power

law:
da where C and m are material constants
 CK m that are determined experimentally.
dN

## According to the above Equation, the fatigue crack growth rate

depends only on ∆K; da/dN is insensitive to the R ratio in Region II.

The power law was apparently discovered by Paris and Erdogan, hence
it is known as Paris law. They proposed an exponent of 4, which was in
line with their experimental data. Subsequent studies over the past
three decades, however, have shown that m can range from 2 to 4 for
most metals in the absence of a corrosive environment.

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EMPIRICAL FATIGUE CRACK GROWTH EQUATIONS

## A number of researchers have developed equations that model all or

part of the sigmoidal da/dN and ∆K relationship.

Forman proposed the following relationship for Region II and Region III:

da CK m da CK m 1
 OR  Kc
dN 1  R K c  K dN K max  1

## The crack growth rate becomes infinite as Kmax approaches Kc , which

assumes a superposition of fracture and fatigue rather than plastic
zone effects in Region III .

Klesnil and Lukas modified Paris law to account for the threshold:

da
dN

 C K m  K thm 
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EMPIRICAL FATIGUE CRACK GROWTH EQUATIONS

## A number of equations attempt to describe the entire crack growth

curve, taking account of both the threshold and Stage III behavior.

## The most common expression to describe fatigue crack growth in all

three regions was developed at NASA and was first published by
Forman and Mettu, which is:

da
 CK m 1  K th p
K  where C, m, p, and q are
dN 1  Kmax
Kc
q
 material constants.

## At intermediate ∆K values were ∆K >> ∆Kth and Kmax<< Kc , the above

equation reduces to the Paris law; therefore, C and m in this equation
are equivalent to that of Paris law.

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EMPIRICAL FATIGUE CRACK GROWTH EQUATIONS

In all the empirical fatigue crack growth equations discussed above, the
fatigue crack growth rate depends only on the loading parameters ∆K
and R.

## Therefore, all of the preceding expressions assume elastic similitude of

the growing crack; none of these equations incorporate a history
dependence, and, thus, are strictly valid only for constant (stress

Dowling and Begley applied the J integral to fatigue crack growth under
large-scale yielding conditions where K is no longer valid.
da
 CJ m
dN

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EXAMPLE 10.1
Derive an expression for the number of stress cycles required to grow a
semicircular surface crack from an initial radius ao to a final size af,
assuming the Paris-Erdogan equation describes the growth rate.
Assume that af is small compared to plate dimensions, the crack
maintains its semicircular shape, and that the stress amplitude ∆σ is
constant.

Solution:
For a semicircular surface crack;

λs is surface correction
Q is flaw shape parameter
φ is the angle of a point along the crack
2c is the diameter of the major axis of
full crack

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EXAMPLE 10.1
Neglecting the φ dependence of the surface correction factor λs.The
stress-intensity amplitude can be approximated by
1.04
K   a
2.464

## Substituting the above value of ∆K in the Paris law equation, we get;

 C 0.663  a 
da m m2

dN
Which can be integrated to determine fatigue life:
1 af
N

C 0.663   

m a0
a  m 2 da

a01 m 2  a1f m 2
N for m  2

C  m2  1 0.663   m

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Problem 10.2
A structural component made from a high-strength steel is subject to
cyclic loading, with σmax = 210 MPa and σmin = 70 MPa. This
component experiences 100 stress cycles per day. Prior to going into
service, the component was inspected by nondestructive evaluation
(NDE), and no flaws were found. The material has the following
properties: σYS = 1000 MPa, KIc = 25 MPa . The fatigue crack growth
rate in this material is the same as in Problem 10.1 (m = 3 & C = 6.87 ×
10 −12) .

(a) The NDE technique can find flaws ≥ 2 mm deep. Estimate the
maximum safe design life of this component, assuming that
subsequent in-service inspections will not be performed. Assume that
any flaws that may be present are semicircular surface cracks and that
they are small relative to the cross section of the component.
(b) Repeat part (a), assuming an NDE detectability limit of 10 mm.

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CRACK CLOSURE
An accidental discovery by Elber in 1970 resulted in several decades of
research into a phenomenon known as crack closure.

## He observed, at high loads, the compliance (d∆/dP) agreed with

standard formulas for fracture mechanics specimens.
But at low loads, the compliance was close to that of an uncracked
specimen.
Elber believed that this change in compliance was due to the contact
between crack surfaces (i.e., crack closure) at loads that were low but
greater than zero. 14
CRACK CLOSURE
When a specimen is cyclically loaded at Kmax and Kmin, the crack faces
are in contact below Kop, the stress intensity at which the crack opens.

Elber assumed that the portion of the cycle that is below Kop does not
contribute to fatigue crack growth because there is no change in crack-
tip strain during cyclic loading of a closed crack.
K eff  K max  K op

## He also introduced an effective stress-intensity ratio:

K eff
U
K
K max  K op

K max  K min
da
A modifies Paris-Erdogan equation becomes:  CK effm
dN
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CRACK CLOSURE
Numerous researchers have later confirmed that crack closure does in
fact occur during fatigue crack propagation, Suresh and Ritchie
identified five mechanisms for fatigue crack closure, which are
illustrated in Figure.

## Fatigue crack closure mechanisms in metals: (a)

plasticity-induced closure (b) roughness-induced
closure, (c) oxide-induced closure, (d) closure
induced by a viscous fluid, and (e)
transformation-induced closure.
Taken from Suresh, S. and Ritchie, R.O.,
“Propagation of Short Fatigue Cracks.”
International Metallurgical
Reviews, Vol. 29, 1984, pp. 445–476.
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CRACK CLOSURE
Plasticity-induced closure results from residual stresses in the plastic
wake. A number of researchers have studied it experimentally and
numerically.

## Although fatigue cracks propagate in pure Mode I conditions on a

global scale, crack deflections due to microstructural heterogeneity can
lead to mixed mode conditions on the microscopic level. The mismatch
between upper and lower crack faces results in contact of crack faces
at a positive load.

## Coarse-grained materials usually produce a higher degree of surface

roughness in fatigue, and correspondingly higher closure loads.

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CRACK CLOSURE
The effect of grain size on fatigue crack
propagation in 1018 steel is shown in Figure

## At the lower R ratio,

where closure effects
are most
pronounced, the
coarse-grained
material has a higher
∆Kth, due to a higher
closure load that is
caused by greater
surface roughness .

## Grain size effects

disappear when the
data are characterized
by ∆Keff Effect of grain size on fatigue crack growth in mild steel. Taken from Gray, G.T.,
Williams, J.C., and Thompson, A.W., “Roughness Induced Crack Closure: An
Explanation for Microstructurally Sensitive Fatigue Crack Growth.” Metallurgical
Transactions, Vol. 14A, 1983, pp. 421–433. 18
CRACK CLOSURE
Oxide-induced closure is usually associated with an aggressive
environment. Oxide debris or other corrosion products become
wedged between crack faces.

Crack closure can also be introduced by a viscous fluid. The fluid acts as
a wedge between crack faces, somewhat like the oxide mechanism.

## A stress-induced martensitic transformation at the tip of the growing

crack can result in a process zone wake, which is called transformation-
induced closure.

## The relative importance of the various closure mechanisms depends on

microstructure, yield strength, and environment.

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CRACK CLOSURE
Three of the closure mechanisms illustrated above (roughness,
corrosion product, and viscous fluid) involve crack wedging. That is, the
crack is prevented from closing completely by an obstruction of some
type.

## In principle, it should be possible to distinguish between plasticity-

induced closure and wedging mechanisms by observing the load-
displacement curve.

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A CLOSER LOOK AT CRACK-WEDGING MECHANISMS
Consider an idealized scenario where a rigid wedge is inserted into an
open crack, suppose that the shape of this wedge is such that the crack
perfectly conforms to it when the load is removed.

## As the applied load

decreases to zero, the
crack is held open at a
fixed displacement, an
applied stress intensity
of Kwedge exists at the
crack tip.

## K eff  K max  K wedge

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A CLOSER LOOK AT CRACK-WEDGING MECHANISMS
Now assume that the crack contains a single rigid particle, as the load is
removed and the crack faces close, they eventually contact the particle.
There is a small residual K when
the load is removed completely.

## Unlike the ideal wedge in

previous case, however, ∆Keff
that would be inferred by
defining Kop at the point where
the compliance changes.

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A CLOSER LOOK AT CRACK-WEDGING MECHANISMS
The following Figure illustrates a more realistic case, where the crack is
filled with particles of various sizes.
As the load is relaxed, the
slope of the load-CMOD
curve gradually changes as
more particles make
contact with the crack.
Eventually, no further
contact occurs and the
CMOD attains a constant
value, assuming the
particles are rigid.
As was the case for the
single-particle scenario,
defining Kop at the point of
initial slope change could

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Stress intensity for crack closure (Kop) depends on a number of factors,
which are identified differently by various researchers.
Elber implies the following relationship for Kop (for 2023-T3 aluminum)
 1 
K op  K   0.5  0.4 R 
1 R 

## Hudak and Davidson performed closure measurements on a 7091

aluminum alloy and 304 stainless steel over a wide range of loading
variables. For both materials, they inferred:
KR
K op  K 0 1  R  
1 R
Ko is the opening stress intensity for R =0.
McClung found that no single equation could describe closure in all
three regimes. According to McClung, most of the seemingly
contradictory data in the literature can be reconciled by considering
the regimes in which the data were collected. 24
THE FATIGUE THRESHOLD
The fatigue threshold ∆Kth is the point below which a fatigue crack will
not grow.

## Most experts believe that the threshold consists of two components:

an intrinsic threshold that is a material property, and an extrinsic
component that is a function of loading variables such as the R ratio.

Most experts believe that the R ratio effects on the threshold are due
to crack closure.

## There is a minority opinion in the fatigue community that believes that

closure plays a minor role in fatigue behavior near the threshold.
Instead, they believe that there are two intrinsic thresholds: a ∆K
threshold and a Kmax threshold.

## Both the view points will be discussed in the following slides.

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THE CLOSURE MODEL FOR THE THRESHOLD
The figure shows a
schematic illustration of
the relationship
between closure
behavior and the R ratio,
assuming Kop is constant.

## Let us assume that a given

material has an intrinsic
threshold ∆Kth* , The
relationship between the where R* is the R ratio above
apparent threshold ∆Kth which closure no longer exerts
and the intrinsic threshold an influence
is given by:
 K *
R*  1 
 
th
 K op  K th* 1  R , R  R* K op  K th*
K th  
 K th* , R  R*
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THE CLOSURE MODEL FOR THE THRESHOLD
The above relationship of ∆Kth and R* is plotted in the figure. the
threshold stress intensity range varies linearly with R below R* and is
constant at higher R ratios.

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THE CLOSURE MODEL FOR THE THRESHOLD
This Figure is a plot of actual
threshold data for a variety
of steels. For most of the
steels on this plot, R*
appears to be around 0.8
and ∆Kth* is between 2 and
3 MPa.m-1/2.

## The exception to the trend

is SNCM439 steel that does
not exhibit an R ratio
dependence. However, the
dependence of ∆Kth on R is
generally validated.

## Effect of R ratio on the threshold stress-intensity range for various

steels. Taken from Tanaka, K., “Mechanics and Micromechanics of
Fatigue Crack Propagation.” ASTM STP 1020, American Society for
Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, PA, 1989, pp. 151–183.
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A TWO-CRITERION MODEL
Vasudevan et al. argue that there are two intrinsic thresholds, one on
∆K and one on Kmax.
They contend that the Kmax threshold reflects the minimum stress-
intensity level that must be achieved at the crack tip for fatigue
damage to occur.

##  K max 1  R , R  R * Therefore, the existence of thresholds

K th   for both Kmax and ∆K is wholly
 K th* , R  R* consistent with the closure argument.
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Problem 10.3
Fatigue tests are performed on two samples of an alloy for aerospace
applications. In the first experiment, R = 0, while R = 0.8 in the second
experiment. Sketch the expected trends in the data for the two
experiments on a schematic log(da/dN) vs. log(∆K) plot. Assume that
the experiments cover a wide range of ∆K values. Briefly explain the
trends in the curves.

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Problem 10.4
Consider a 1T compact specimen that is loaded cyclically at a constant
load amplitude with Pmax = 18 kN and Pmin = 5 kN. Using the fatigue
crack growth data in Problem 10.1, calculate the number of cycles
required to grow the crack from a/W = 0.35 to a/W = 0.60. Plot crack
size vs. cumulative cycles for this range of a/W (Using a computer
program)

##  6.87 10 12 K 

da 3

dN
where da/dN is in m/cycle and ∆K is in 𝑀𝑃𝑎 𝑚 and ∆σ is in MPa

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