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Chapter 7

Fracture
Subjects of interest
• Introduction/ objectives
• Types of fracture in metals
• Theoretical cohesive strength of metals
• The development in theories of brittle fracture
• Fractographic observation in brittle fracture
• Ductile fracture
• Ductile to brittle transition behaviour
• Intergranular fracture
• Factors affecting modes of fracture
• Concept of the fracture curve
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Objectives

• This chapter provides the development in the


theories of brittle fractures together with mechanisms
of fracture that might occur in metallic materials.
• Factors affecting different types of fracture
processes such as brittle cleavage fracture, ductile
failure or intergranular fracture will be discussed.

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Introduction
Failure in structures leads to lost of
properties and sometimes lost of
human lives unfortunately.

Failed fuselage of the Aloha 737


aircraft in 1988.

Failure of Liberty Ships during


services in World War II.
Collapse of Point Pleasant suspension
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Types of fracture in metals
• The concept of material strength and fractures has long been
studied to overcome failures.
• The introduction of malleable irons during the revolution of
material construction led to the perception of brittle and ductile
fractures as well as fatigue failure in metals.

Ductile failure
Failure in metallic materials Ductile fracture involves a large
can be divided into two amount of plastic deformation and
main categories; can be detected beforehand.

Brittle failure

Theories of brittle fracture Brittle fracture is more catastrophic


and has been intensively studied.

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Failure modes

Ductile fracture Brittle fracture

• High energy is absorbed by • Low energy is absorbed during


microvoid coalescence during transgranular cleavage fracture
ductile failure (high energy (low energy fracture mode)
fracture mode)
Less catastrophic More catastrophic
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Theoretical cohesive strength of
metal
• In the most basic term, strength is due to the cohesive forces
between atoms.
• The attractive and repulsive force acting on the two atoms
lead to cohesive force between two atoms which varies in
relation to the separation between these atoms, see fig.
The theoretical cohesive strength
σmax can be obtained in relation to
Cohesive force, σ

ao σmax the sine curve and become.


12
 Eγ s 
Separation σ max =   ...Eq. 1
between  ao 
atoms, x Where
γs is the surface energy
ao is the unstrained interatomic spacing.
Cohesive force as a function of
the separation between atoms. Note: Convenient estimates of σmax ~ E/10.
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Fracture in single crystals

The brittle fracture of single crystals is related to the resolved


normal stress on the cleavage plane.
Sohncke’s law states that fracture occurs
when the resolved normal stress reaches a P
critical value. φ N
τR λ
From the critical resolved shear stress τR for slip A
Normal
stress
P cos λ P
τR = = cos φ cos λ ...Eq. 2 Slip
A / cos φ A Slip A’ plane
direction

The critical normal stress σc for brittle fracture


P cos φ P
σc = = cos 2 φ ...Eq. 3
P
A / cos φ A

Note: shear stress  slip


tensile stress  crack propagation  fracture.
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Example: Determine the cohesive strength of a silica fibre,
if E = 95 GPa, γs = 1 J.m-2, and ao = 0.16 nm.

12 12
 Eγ s   95 × 10 9 × 1 
σ max =   =  −9 
 = 24.4 GPa
 ao   0.16 × 10 

• This theoretical cohesive strength is exceptionally higher than


the fracture strength of engineering materials.
• This difference between cohesive and fracture strength is due to
inherent flaws or defects in the materials which lower the
fracture strength in engineering materials.

• Griffith explained the discrepancy between the fracture


strength and theoretical cohesive strength using the concept
of energy balance.

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Theories of brittle fracture
Griffith theory of brittle fracture

The first analysis on cleavage fracture was initiated by Griffith


using the concept of energy balance in order to explain
discrepancy between the theoretical cohesive strength and
observed fracture strength of ideally brittle material.

The development in cleavage fracture models

• Modified Griffith theory by Irwin and Orowan.


• Zener’s model of microcrack formation at a pile-up of
edge dislocations.
• Stroh’s model of cleavage crack formation by dislocation
pile-up.
• Cottrell’s model of cleavage crack initiation in BCC metals
• Smith’s model of microcrack formation in grain boundary
carbide film.
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Griffith theory of brittle fracture
Observed fracture strength is Griffith explained that the discrepancy
always lower than theoretical is due to the inherent defects in brittle
cohesive strength materials leading to stress
concentration.  lower the fracture
Crack propagation criterion: strength of the materials

Consider a through thickness crack of length 2a, σ

subjected to a uniform tensile stress σ, at infinity.


Crack propagation occurs when the released
elastic strain energy is at least equal to the 2a
energy required to generate new crack surface.

• The stress required to  2 Eγ s 


12

create the new crack surface σ =  σ

 π a  ...Eq. 4 Griffith crack model


is given as follows;
• In plane strain condition, 12
 2 Eγ s  The Griffith’s
Eq.4 becomes σ =   equation
 (1 − υ )πa 
2
...Eq. 5
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Modified Griffith equation

• The Griffith equation is strongly dependent on the crack size a,


and satisfies only ideally brittle materials like glass.

• However, metals are not ideally brittle and normally fail with
certain amounts of plastic deformation, the fracture stress is
increased due to blunting of the crack tip.

• Irwin and Orowan suggested Griffith’s equation can be


applied to brittle materials undergone plastic deformation
before fracture by including the plastic work, γp, into the total
elastic surface energy required to extend the crack wall, giving
the modified Griffith’s equation as follows

12 12
 2 E (γ s + γ p )   Eγ p 
σf =  ≈   , when γ p >> γ 2 ...Eq. 6
 π (1 − υ 2
) a   (1 − υ )a 
2

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Zener’s model of microcrack formation
at a pile-up of edge dislocations
The Griffith theory only indicated the stress required for crack
propagation of an existing crack of length 2a but did not explain
the nucleation of the crack.

Zener and Stroh showed that the crack nucleation of length 2c


occurs when the shear stress τs created by pile-up of n dislocations
of Burgers vector b at a grain boundary reaches the value of
Barrier

 2γ s 
τs ≈τi +   nb
 nb  ...Eq. 7 τs

Where τi is the lattice friction stress L 2c


rc e
in the slip plane. So u

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Stroh’s model of cleavage crack
formation by dislocation pile-up
Stroh included the effect of the grain size d in a model, suggesting
the condition of the shear stress created by dislocation pile-up of
the length d/2 to nucleate a microcrack as follows

Eπγ
Dislocation pile-up
τ eff = τ y − τ i forming micocrack

(
4 1−υ 2 d ) ...Eq. 8 τ−τl

where σθθ
r
τeff is the effective shear stress d/2 σθθ

τy is the yield stress


σθθ

Note: This model indicates that the r

fracture of the material should depend


Stroh’s model of cleavage crack
only on the shear stress acting on the
formation by dislocation pile-up.
slip band.

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Cottrell’s model of cleavage crack
initiation in BCC metals
Cottrell later suggested that the fracture process should be controlled
by the critical crack growth stage under the applied tensile stress,
which required higher stress than the crack nucleation itself as
suggested by Stroh.
σ

Cottrell also showed that the crack Applied stress

nucleation stress can be small if the (101) Slip plane


microcrack is initiated by intersecting a
[111]
of two low energy slip planes to 2
(001) Cleavage plane

provide a preferable cleavage plane. b = a[001]


Cleavage knife crack
a of length c for
a [111]
[111] + a [111] → a[001] ...Eq. 9 2 (101) Slip plane
displacement nb

2 2

This results in a wedge cleavage crack on σ


the (001) plane. Further propagation of this a
[111] + a [111] → a[001]
crack is then controlled by the applied 2 2
tensile stress. Cottrell’s model of cleavage crack
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Smith’s model of microcrack formation
in grain boundary carbide film
Models proposed by Stroh and Cottrell Grain boundary carbide film

involve crack initiation by dislocation σ


Ferrite grain
pile-up of length D/2, but exclude the
effect of second phase particles. Ferrite grain
Microcrack
τeff
Smith then proposed a model for cleavage
fracture in mild steel concerning τeff

microcracking of grain boundary carbide by


dislocation pile-up of length equal to half of σ
the grain diameter D/2. D Co

Smith’s model of microcrack formation in


Microcrack is initiated when sufficiently high grain boundary carbide film
applied stress causes local plastic strain ...Eq. 10
within the ferrite grains to nucleate 2
microcrack in brittle grain boundary c   1
 4 C  τi 2  4 Eγ p
σ 2f  o  + τ eff2 1 +  o   ≥
carbide of thickness Co. d   π  d  τ eff  (1 − υ 2 )πd
Note: Further propagation of the GB carbide crack follows the Griffith theory.
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Fractographic observation
in brittle fracture
The process of cleavage fracture
consists of three steps:
1) Plastic deformation to produce
dislocation pile-ups.
2) Crack initiation.
3) Crack propagation to failure.

Distinct characteristics of brittle


fracture surfaces:
1) The absence of gross plastic
deformation.
2) Grainy or Faceted texture.
3) River marking or stress lines.

Brittle fracture indicating the origin of the


crack and crack propagation path
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Brittle fracture surface

• Cleavage fracture surface is Fatigue pre-crack front

characterised by flat facets (with its size


normally similar to the grain size).
• River lines or the stress lines are steps
between cleavage on parallel planes and
always converge in the direction of local
crack propagation.
Cleavage facet

River marking
or stress lines

ck
C ra h
r owt
g on
Twist boundary c ti
dire

Schematic of river-line pattern.


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Initiation of microcracks from
deformation and twins
• Microcracks can be • Microcracks can also be initiated at
produced by the deformation mechanical twins, especially in large
process, see fig. grained bcc metals at low
temperature.
• Crack initiation sites are due to the
intersections of twins with other twins
or intersection of twins with grain
boundaries.

250 x

Microcracks produced in iron by


tensile deformation at 133 K.
Cleavage along twin-matrix interfaces.

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