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Failure due to Fracture

Noel ODowd, Department of MAE; Room A1 096

Consider a linear elastic (non-yielding) material with a crack


K 2 r => current students

distance, r Crack tip

As we approach the crack tip, the stress becomes infinite

Theoretically, fracture will occur at any K value since if we get close enough to the crack tip r 0 so

Application of Fracture Mechanics To examine the safety of a component, we determine the applied stress intensity factor, K, and compare it with the fracture toughness, Kc

In practice we require a large stress over a physically reasonable distance, e.g. a few microns (10-6 m) for fracture to occur

This is analogous to determining the applied stress, , and comparing with yield stress, Y

The value of K at which this condition is satisfied is known as the fracture toughness Kc , which is a material property

Strength applies to yielding, toughness applies to fracture

Fracture toughness Kc and the fracture toughness test The engineer is interested in what value of K will cause fracture This is the fracture toughness, Kc and is a material property To obtain Kc a standard fracture toughness test is carried out A crack is inserted into a specimen and load increased until fracture

t = 9.5 mm 8 mm 0.2 m Not to scale

Given a Factor of Safety = 1.5 What is the failure load? Material: Steel with y = 585 MPa

W a S

KC = 33 MPam

K = Y a

W a S

3 PS K =Y a 2bW 2
3 Pc S Kc = Y a 2bW 2

W a S

K = Y a
For the three point bend geometry,

is the bending stress =

6M bW 2

Pc is the load at fracture Kc is the fracture toughness, a material property

b is plate thickness M is the central bending moment = PS/4

Energy Release Rate, G

Cast Iron: Steels: Epoxy:

20 MPa m

0.5 MPa m 3245 MPa m 3 MPa m

The energy based approach is an alternative, equivalent approach to fracture toughness

50210 MPa m Carbon-fibre composite

Silicon Carbide:

Aluminium alloys: 2045 MPa m

The approach provides insight into fracture mechanisms and is still used though mainly for brittle materials

Typical values of Kc (from Ashby and Jones, Engineering Materials I)

In the energy based approach, the energy release rate G and the critical energy release rate Gc are used

The high fracture toughness of metals is due to their ability to deform plasticity which reduces the intensity of the stress at the crack tip

Energy Release Rate, G

Plane Strain Fracture Toughness, KIC


K2 E K
2 c

If we test a ductile material with specimens of different thickness, we observe

that fracture occurs at different values of K for each thickness

This despite the fact that we have claimed that Kc is a material property

Gc =


E E = E 1 2
G has units MPa m or kJ m

plane stress plane strain

Thickness, t

The increase in toughness for the thin specimens is due to the difference in
stress state

Subtopic: plane stress and plane strain

Because three dimensional problems are difficult to solve we often simplify to 2D Most important idealisations are plane stress and plane strain
Plane stress

Thin specimen Plane stress Thick specimen Plane strain

Body is subjected to only in-plane loading

zz, zx, and zy = 0

Examples are thin wall tubes, aircraft fuselages, thin sheet steel panels etc. In general most thin components are not subjected to forces in the thickness
direction and therefore are subjected to plane stress when loaded

Plane strain

In plane strain the out of plane stress is related to the in-plane stresses

Body is subjected to only in-plane strain components:

zz, zx, zy = 0
Note: zz can be non-zero

zz =



+ xx )

zz = 0
= 1/E[zz - (yy + xx)]

zz = (yy +xx)

Examples of plane strain deformation

The notch acts as a stress concentration site leading to high stresses there Constraint of surrounding material exerts a stress on the material at the centre Component experiences plane strain conditions at the centre due to constraint Component experiences plane stress at the surface: free surface =>

One face of the component is clamped, e.g. cylinder with clamped ends, zz = 0 More generally, plane strain occurs in thick and/or notched components

zz = 0

z x
y z x

When testing thick specimens, plane strain conditions are approached and we
reach a lower limit of toughness, the plane strain fracture toughness, KIC

Crack tip behaviour under plane stress conditions

This is the fracture toughness used in engineering

1, 2 are positive, 3 = 0:
Tresca yield condition is 1 - 3 = y

Stress at the crack tip to cause yielding 1 = y

K 2r


distance, r

Thickness, t

3 out of the page

Plane strain

For plane strain, 3 = (1+ 2)

At the crack tip all principal stresses are +ve so we have a high triaxiality situation

When a thin specimen is tested, it is predominantly plane stress so crack tip

stresses are low

higher stress is required to cause yield For plane strain, at the crack tip we can show (for no strain hardening)

Therefore it fails at a high K value

1 3y; 2 2y; 3 2.5y

(1 2 = y )
Crack stresses are higher (plastic zone is smaller)



Thickness, t

Plastic Zone Size in a Test Specimen

In a test specimen plane stress conditions close to the free surface (since 3 = 0

there) and plane strain at the centre of the specimen as the material is constrained there

At the centre, plane strain conditions hold

Plasticity in a fracture specimen will look like:

high triaxiality small plastic zone

Failure mode in plane stress and plane strain

In plane stress, 3 = 0 so planes of maximum shear are 45 to the free surfaces In plane strain, planes of maximum shear are in the

Failure mode is also affected by whether we have plane stress or plane strain

1-2 plane, which results in

a flat fracture surface

plane stress

Plane strain

Slant fracture
2 3 1

Flat fracture

Fracture surfaces for an aluminium alloy

Size requirements for KIC testing

Normally it is the plane strain fracture toughness we wish to measure The decision as to what constitutes plane stress and plane strain is somewhat

Size requirements for KIC testing

Al alloy:

y = 400 MPa; KIC = 25 MPam

t > 10 mm
Pressure vessel steel:

Testing standards specify that if the thickness

y = 600 MPa; KIC = 180 MPam

t > 300 mm

t > 2.5(KIC/y)2
then the specimen is in plane strain

KIc is a lower bound toughness value and hence is always conservative

Test Standard, ASTM E 1820 Standard Test Method of Fracture Toughness (April 2000), page 1000








20 cm

compact tension, [C(T)], and disk-shaped compact tension, [DC(T)].

0.45 < a/W < 0.55

1.5 cm

ASTM E 1820

Compact tension, C(T)

Disk-shaped compact tension, DC(T)

P5 is intersection of load-displacement trace with the 95% secant line PQ is the load used in the KQ calculation If size requirement is satisfied, KQ = KIC


From ASTM 1820 for a C(T) specimen:

A fracture test was carried out on a 50 mm C(T) specimen taken from a steel forging of proof stress, 1050 MPa. The failure was of Type I failure according to ASTM 1820 with PQ = P5 = 241 kN and Pmax = 261 kN. Determine the toughness KQ of the specimen and state if it is a valid KIc measurement. The following information was obtained from the test specimen: Crack length, a = 52.09 mm Specimen thickness, B = 49.93 mm Specimen width, W = 100.03 mm



Y (a / W )

Y (a / W ) =

(2 + a / W )(0.886 + 4.64(a / W ) 13.32(a / W )2 + 14.72(a / W )3 5.6(a / W )4 (1 a / W )3 / 2

ASTM E 1820 Extract from annual Book of ASTM standards, 2000