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A Review on Crack Closure Models
Luiz Carlos H. Ricardo
EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo
* Paulo de Mattos Pimenta ** Dirceu Spinelli
* EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo, ** EESC, University of Sao Paulo
Copyright © 2001 Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc.
ABSTRACT
The proposal of this paper is to make a review of
analytical crack closure models. Christensen discovered
the crack closure in 1963 and later defined by Elber in
1968 in his PhD work. This subject is a topic related to
short cracks. The first analytical crack closure model was
developed by Newman in 1974 based on the Dugdale
model. Since Newman, finite element and difference
analysis have been conducted to obtain a basic
understanding of crack growth and crack closure
processes. Simple and complex models were developed
based on the plasticity induced crack closure behavior.
Since 1970 until today the most finite elements analysis
were conducted using two dimensional under both, plane
stress and plane strain conditions. In the literature few
works covering threedimensional models can be found.
Chermahini did the first work discussing it, in 1986. This
paper also discusses the yielding zone, empirical crack
closure model, modified Dugdale and design concepts
using short crack theory.
INTRODUCTION
The discovery of crack closure mechanisms, such
plasticity, roughness, oxide, corrosion, and fretting
product debris, and the use of the effective stress
intensity factor range, has provided and engineering tool to
predict small and large crack growth rate behavior under
service loading conditions. These mechanisms have also
provided a rationale for developing new, damage tolerant
materials.
The major links between fatigue and fracture mechanics
were done by Christensen [ 1 ] and Elber [ 2 ]. The crack
closure concept put crack propagation theories on a firm
foundation and allowed the development of practical life
prediction for variable and constant amplitude loading, by
such as experienced by modern day commercial aircraft.
Numerical analysis using finite elements has played a
major role in the stress analysis crack problems.
Swedlow [ 3 ] was one of the first to use finite element
method to study the elasticplastic stress field around a
crack. The application of linear elastic fracture mechanics,
i.e. the stress intensity factor range, ∆K, to the “small or
short” crack growth have been studied for long time to
explain the effects of nonlinear crack tip parameters. The
key for these nonlinear crack tip parameters is crack
closure. Analytical model s were developed to predict
crack growth and crack closure processes like Dugdale [
4 ], or strip yield use the plasticity induced approach in
the models considering normally plane stress or strain
effects. In this paper will shown a review of some cracks
closure models.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CRACK CLOSURE
Elber measured the plastic deformation in the wake of a
growing fatigue crack measuring nonlinear crack opening
behavior. The concept of crack closure under nominal
tensile stress cycles was not recognized earlier; but
today the fatigue crack problem can be explain without
considering crack closure and others mechanisms for
crack closure have been proposed.
The technical significance of crack closure is related to
the growth of fatigue cracks under services load histories.
The ultimate goal of prediction models is to arrive at
quantitative results on fatigue crack growth in terms of
millimeters per year or some other service period. Such
predictions are required for safety and economy reasons,
for example, for aircraft and automotive parts. Sometimes
the service load time history ( variable amplitude loading )
is much similar to constant amplitude loading, including
mean load effects. In both cases quantitative knowledge of
crack opening stress level S
op
is essential for crack
growth predictions, because:
• S
op
is required to define ∆K
eff
( K
max
– K
min
)
• ∆K
eff
is supposed to be the appropriate field
parameter for correlating crack growth rates under
different cyclic loading conditions
The correlation of crack growth data starts from the
similitude approach, based on the ∆K
eff
, which predicts
that equal ∆K
eff
cycles will produce the same crack growth
increments. The application of ∆K
eff
to variable amplitude
loading require prediction of the variation of S
op
, during
variable amplitude load history, which for the more
advanced prediction models implies a cycle by cycle
prediction. The figure 1 shows the definitions of K values.
Figure 1 Definitions of K Values , Schijve [ 5 ]
The application of ∆K
eff
is considerably complicated by
two problems ( 1 ) small cracks and ( 2 ) threshold ∆K
values. Small cracks can be significant because in many
cases a relatively large part of the fatigue life is spent in
the small crack length regime. The threshold problem is
particularly relevant for fatigue under variable amplitude
spectrum, if the spectrum includes many “ small “ cycles.
It then is important to know whether the small cycles do
exceed a threshold ∆K
value, and to which extent it will
occur. The application of similitude concept in structures
can help so much, but the correlation to satisfy the
results cannot happen and the arguments normally are:
• The similarity can be violated because the crack
growth mechanism are no longer similar
• The crack can be too small for adopting K as a
unique field parameter
• ∆K
eff
and others conditions being nominally
similar, it is possible that other crack tip aspects
also affect crack growth, such as crack tip
blunting and strain hardening, Schijve [ 5 ].
NUMERICAL ANALYSIS OF CRACK CLOSURE
Since the early 1970s, numerous finite element and finite
difference analysis have been conducted to simulate
fatigue crack growth and closure. These analyses were
conducted to obtain a basic understanding of the crack
growth and closure processes. Parallel to these numerical
analyses, simple and complexes models of the fatigue
crack growth process were developed. Although the vast
majority of these analyses and models were based on the
plasticity induced crack closure phenomenon. Will be
discussing here some of these models covering plasticity
induced crack closure Newman [ 6 ].
Finite Element and Difference Analysis
The most analyses in finite element and difference
analysis were conducted using twodimensional analysis
under plane stress and plane strain. Since 1980 few
works were done covering threedimensional models. The
first model covering was done by Chermahini [ 7 ] .
Newman and Armen [ 8 –10 ] and Ohji et al. [ 11 ] were
the first to conduct the two dimensional, analysis of the
crack growth process. Their results under plane stress
conditions were in quantitative agreement with
experimental results of Elber [ 2 ], and showed that crack
opening stresses were a function of R ratio ( S
min
/ S
max
)
and the stress level ( S
max
/ σ
0
).
Blom and Holm [ 12 ] and Fleck and Newman [ 13,14 ]
studied crack growth and closure under planestrain
conditions and found that cracks did close but the cracks
opening levels were much lower than those under plane
stress conditions. Sehitoglu et al. [ 15,16 ] found later the
residual plastic deformations that cause closure came
from flanks of the crack. McClung [1719 ] performed
extensive finite element crack closure calculations on
small cracks at holes, and various fatigue crack growth
specimens. Newman [ 20 ] found S
max
/ σ
0
could correlate
the crack opening stresses for different flow stresses ( σ
0
)
for the middle crack tension specimen, McClung found
that K analogy, using K
max
/ K
0
could correlate the
crack opening stresses for different crack configurations
for small scale yielding conditions.
Very little research on three dimensional finite element
analyses of crack closure has been conducted as
mentioned before. Chermahini [ 7 ] was the first to
investigate the three dimensional nature of crack growth
and closure. He found that the crack opening stresses
were higher near the obtained experimental crack opening
stresses, similar to Chemahini’s calculations, along the
crack front using Sunder’s striation method [ 21 ], with
backface straingages and finite element method.
Empirical Crack Closure Models
The Wheeler [ 22 ] and Willenborg et al. [ 23 ] were the
first models proposed to explain crack growth retardation
after overloads. These models assume that retardation
exists as long as the current cracktip plastic zone is
enclosed within the overload plastic zone. The physical
basis for these models, however, is weak because they
do not account for crack growth acceleration due under
loads or immediately following an overload. Chang [ 24 ]
and Hudson [ 25 ] clearly demonstrated that retardation
and acceleration are both necessary to have a reliable
model. Later models by Gallagher confirmed it [ 26 ].
Chang [ 24 ] and Johnson [ 27 ] included functions to
account for the retardation and acceleration. A new
generation of models was introduced by Bell and Wolfman
[ 28 ], Schijve [ 29 ], de Koning [ 30 ] and Baudin &
Robert [ 31 ] were based on the crack closure concept.
The simplest model is the one proposed by Schijve, who
assumed that the crack opening stress remains constant
during each flight in a flight byflight sequence. The other
models developed empirical equations to account for
retardation and acceleration, similar to the yield zone
models.
Modified Dugdale Model
There are many modified Dugdale models for example [
32 – 35], After Elber [ 2 ] defined the crack closure, the
research community began to develop analytical or
numerical models to simulate fatigue crack growth and
closure. These models were designed to calculate the
growth and closure behavior instead of assuming such
behavior as in the empirical models. Seeger [ 32 ] and
Newman [ 8 ] were the first to develop two type of models.
Seeger modified the Dugdale model and Newman
developed a ligament or strip yield model. Later a large
group of similar models were also developed using the
Dugdale framework.
Budiansky & Hutchinson [ 34 ] studied closure using an
analytical model, while Dill & Saff [ 33 ], Fuhring &
Seeger [ 36 ], and Newman [ 37 ] modified the Dugdale
model. Some models used the analytical functions to
model the plastic zone, while others divided the plastic
zone into a number of elements. The model by Wang &
Blom [ 38 ] is a modification of Newman’s model [ 37 ] but
their model was the first to include weight functions to
analyses other crack configuration.
Crack Propagation by Finite Element Method
The experiments of crack closure from Elber [ 2 ] with
constant amplitude loading that was proposed the
following equation for fatigue crack propagation rates:
n
eff
K C
N
a
) (∆ ·
∆
∆
( 1
)
Where C and n are constants of the material and ∆K
eff
is
the effective stress intensity factor range.He proposed that
the effective stressintensity factor range can be
calculated by :
F a S K
eff eff
π ∆ · ∆ ( 2
)
Where:
a  half length of the crack,
F – boundary correction factor
∆S
eff
– effective stress range
The figure 2 shows the center crack panel that will be
used to evaluate the crack propagation.
Figure 2 Center Crack Panel, Newman [ 20 ]
The figure 3 shows the panel idealized to finite element
method.
Figure 3 Finite Element Model of Center Crack Panel
Newman [ 20 ]
The panel material was assumed to be elastic perfect
plastic with a tensile ( and compressive ) yield stress, σ
0
,
of 350.0 MN / m
2
and a modulus of elasticity of 70000
MN / m
2
these properties are of aluminum alloy.
The
released nodes will be done from node A to node F.
Of course, the accuracy of the calculated crack opening
stresses would be affected by the mesh size chosen to
model the crack tip region. A finer element mesh size
would give more accurate results. Newman [ 20 ]
evaluated three kind of mesh as shows in table 1
Table 1 Meshes at Crack Tip
mesh K
T
∆a ( mm )
elements Nodes
I 7.2 0.64 398 226
II 14.4 0.16 533 300
III 20.9 0.08 639 358
W = 460.0 mm and a ≅ 28.0 mm
Figure 4 Constant Amplitude Crack Extension with
R = 0, Newman [ 20 ]
The figure 4 shows how was stabilized during crack
propagation. The mesh that shows the best agreement
with experimental results was the mesh II, but the mesh III
provides good results too. With the facilities in terms of
computer today, normally the time to evaluate this mesh
is almost nothing, being size of element and the
increment most used today to evaluate a crack closure
analysis or propagation.
Newman [ 37 ] introduced a model that is possible
evaluate crack closure and crack propagation analysis
until failure the model received the name FASTRAN. The
formulation of FASTRAN is shows in next.
Figure 5 Crack Surface Displacements and Stress Along
Crack Line, Newman [ 37 ]
The crack surface displacements, which are used to
calculate contact (or closure) stresses during unloading,
are influenced by plastic yielding at the crack tip and
residual deformations left in the wake of the advancing
crack. Upon reloading, the applied stress level at which
the crack surfaces become fully open is directly related to
contact stresses. This stress is called the “crack opening
stress”. Because they are no closed form solutions for
elastic plastic cracked bodies, simple approximations
must be used. In next will showed the equations that
governing the stress and deformations of the analytical
crack closure model. Because of symmetry, only one
quarter of the plate will be analyzed as showed in the
figure 6.
Figure 6 System Used in the Analytical Closure Model
Newman [ 37 ]
The plate had a fictitious crack of halflength d and was
subjected to a uniform stress S. The rigidplastic bar
element connected to point J was subjected to a
compressive stress σ
J.
this element is in contact when the
length of the element ( L
j
)
is make V
j
= L
j.
The equations that govern the response of the complete
system were obtained by requiring that compatibility be
met between the elastic plate and all of the bar elements
along the crack surface and plastic zone boundary. The
displacement at point i is :
) , ( ) (
1
j i
n
j
j i i
x x g x Sf V
∑
·
− · σ ( 3 )
Where f( x
i
) e g( x
i
, x
j
) are influence functions given by :
W
d
x d
E
x f
i i
π η
sec ) (
) 1 ( 2
) (
2 2
2
−
−
·
( 4 )
) , ( ) , ( ) , (
j i j i j i
x x G x x G x x g − + · ( 5 )
( )
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]
,
`
.

−
,
`
.

− +
+
,
`
.

−
−
− −
−
,
`
.

−
−
−
−
·
− −
−
−
d
b
d
b
x d
x b d
x b d
x b
x b d
x b d
x b
E
x x G
i
i
i
i
i
i
i
j i
1 1 2 1 2 2
1
1
2
1
1
2
2
2
1
2
2
sen sen
cosh
cosh ) (
) 1 ( 2
) , (
π
η
,
`
.

]
]
]
]
]
]
,
`
.

−
,
`
.

−
− −
− −
W
d
d
b
d
b
B B π
sec
sen sen
sen sen
1 1 2 1
1
1
2
1
( 6 )
Where
W
d
W
b
B
K
K
) sen(
) (
sen
π
π
·
for K = 1 or 2. ( 7 )
j j
w x b − ·
1
;
j j
w x b + ·
2
. The compatibility equation
V
j
= L
j.
Is expressed as subject to various constraints:
i i j
n
j
i ij
L x Sf x x g − ·
∑
·
) ( ) , (
1
σ for i = 1 to n ( 8 )
One type of constraint is caused by tensile or
compressive yielding of the bar elements and the other is
caused separation ( Vj ≥ Lj ) along the crack surface.
The plastic zone size ( ρ ) for a crack in a finite
width specimen was determined by requiring that the
finiteness condition of Dugdale be satisfied. This condition
states that the stress intensity factor at the tip of the
plastic zone is zero and is given by:
0 ) ( ) (
0
· +
σ
K K
s
( 9 )
Where:
,
`
.

·
W
d
d S K
s
π
π sec ) (
max
( 10 )
and
,
`
.

¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
]
]
]
]
]
]
− − ·
−
W
d
d
W
d
W
c
K
π
π
π
π
π
ασ
σ
sec
sen
sen
sen
2
1 ) (
1
0
0
( 11 )
solving the ( 21 ) for d and nothing that ρ = d – c gives :
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
¹
¹
¹
'
¹
−
]
]
]
]
,
`
.

,
`
.

·
−
1
2
sec sen sen
0
max 1
ασ
π π
π
ρ
S
W
c
c
W
c ( 12 )
In the plastic zone was arbitrarily divided into ten
graduated bar elements. The aspect ratios ( 2wi / ρ ) :
0.01; 0.02; 0.04; 0.06; 0.09; 0.12; 0.5; 0.2 e 0.3. The
smallest elements were located near the crack tip
( x = c ). Doubling the number of elements in the plastic
zone has less than a 1 percent effect on calculated crack
opening stresses. At the maximum applied stress, the
plastic zone size was calculated from equation ( 12
). The length ( L
i
) of the bar elements in the plastic zone
was calculated from equation ( 3 ) as:
) , ( ) (
10
1
0 max j i
j
i i i
x x g x f S V L
∑
·
− · · ασ ( 13 )
Where ) (
i
x f and ) , (
j i
x x g are given by
equations ( 4 ) and ( 5 ), respectively. The bar elements
act as rigid wedges. The plastic deformation ( L
i
) changes
only when an element yields in tension ( σ
j
≥ ασ
0
)
or compression (σ
j
≤ σ
0
). The division of the plastic zone
into a number of finite elements would allow for the
eventual use of a nonlinear stressstrain curve with
kinematic hardening instead of the rigid perfectly plastic
assumptions used here.
Crack Opening Stresses
The applied stress level at which the crack surfaces
are fully open ( no surfaces contact), denoted as S
0
, was
calculated from the contact stresses at S
min.
To have no
surface contact, the stressintensity factor due to applied
stress increment ( S
0
 S
min
) is set equal to the stress
intensity factor due to the contact stresses. Solving for S
0
gives :
[ ]
∑
−
·
− −
− − ·
1
11
1
1
2
1
min 0
sen sen
2
n
j
j
B B S S
π
σ
( 14 )
Where
,
`
.

,
`
.

·
W
c
W
b
B
K
K
0
sen
sen
π
π
for K = 1 or 2 ( 15 )
and c
0
is the current crack length minus ∆c*. The
increment the width of element n, and its significance is
discussed in the next section. If σ
j
= 0 for j = 11 to n – 1
at the minimum applied stress, then the crack is already
open, and S
0
cannot be determined from equation (
14 ). The stress σ
j
at the crack tip changes from
compression to tension when the applied stress level
reaches S
0
.
Crack Extension and Approximations
The crack growth equation proposed by Elber [ 2 ]
states that the crack growth rate is a power function of the
effective stress intensity factor range only. Later ,
Hardraht et al. [ 9 ] showed that the power law was
inadequate at high growth rates approaching fracture. The
results presented herein show that is also inadequate at
low growth rates approaching threshold. To account for
these effects, the power law was modified to :
2
5
max
2
0
1
1
1
2
,
`
.

−
,
`
.

∆
∆
−
∆ ·
C
K
K
K
K C
dN
dc eff
effC
( 16 )
where :
,
`
.

− · ∆
max
0
4 3 0
1
S
S
C C K ( 17 )
F c S K π
max max
· ( 18 )
and
( ) F c S S K
eff
π
0 max
− · ∆
The constants C1 t o C5 are determined by experimental
test under constant amplitude loading. The factor F is the
boundary correction factor on stress intensity. The
analytical closure model provides extending the crack an
incremental value at he moment of maximum applied
stress. The amount of crack extension (∆c* ) was
arbitrarily defined
∆c* = 0.05ρmax ( 19 )
Where ρmax is the plastic zone caused by the maximum
applied stress occurring during the ∆c* was calculated
from equation ( 16 ) and the cyclic load history. Typical
values of ∆c* ranged between 0.004 and 1.0 mm,
depending upon the applied stress level and crack length.
The simulated crack extension (∆c* ) creates a new bar
element at the crack tip. The length while the crack was
grown under cyclic loading ( cyclebycycle ) over the
length ∆c*. The number of load (∆N ) required to grow the
crack an increment ∆c* was calculated from equation ( 16
) and the cyclic load history. When the sum of the crack
growth increments (∆c ) equaled or exceeded ∆c*, the
analytical closure model was exercised. If ∆N reached
300 cycles, the model was exercised whether or not ∆c*
was reached.
This limits the number of cycles that can be applied
before the model is exercised. The increment ∆c* was set
equal to summation of ∆c’s. Thus, ∆c* was less than or
equal to that computed from equation ( 19 ), and the
number of cycles ranged from 1 to 300. During the cyclic
growth computations, the cyclic stress history was
monitored to find the lowest applied stress before (
S
minb
) and after ( S
mina
) the higest applied stress level (
S
maxh
). The application of the analytical closure model
consisted of :
• Applying minimum stress S
minb
at crack length c
• Applying maximum stress S
minh
at crack length c
• Extending crack and increment ∆c*
• Applying minimum stress S
mina
at crack length c
+ ∆c*
• Calculating cyclic load history
• Calculating new ∆c* from equation 19
• Repeating process when crack extension reaches
new ∆c* or reaches 300 cycles.
Figure 7 Crack Surface Displace under Constant
Amplitude Loading, Newman [ 37 ]
Figure 8 Calculated Crack Opening Stresses as Function
of Crack Length under Constant Amplitude Loading R =
0, Newman [ 37 ]
The figures 7 and 8 show an example of application of the
use of FASTRAN in a 2219T851 aluminum alloy.
CONCLUSION
The paper did a review of some analytical crack closure
models, giving a special attention for Newman’s models
that are the most used in the aerospace industry. The
paper shows also that the methodology can be used at
the autoparts and carmakers in short time, as one of the
criterion to design the structures and systems.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Dr. Wolf Elber and Dr. Jim C. Newman Jr. from NASA (
National Aeronautics and Space Administration ) at
Langley Research Center, Virginia, 23665, USA
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CONTACT
Luiz Carlos H. Ricardo, EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo
email: luiz.ricardo@poli.usp.br
Paulo de Mattos Pimenta, EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo
email : ppmenta@usp.br
Dirceu Spinelli , EESC, University of Sao Paulo
email : dspinell@sc.usp.br
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