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Engineering Fracture Mechanics 69 (2002) 13151324 www.elsevier.


Utilization of partial crack closure for fatigue crack growth modeling

Daniel Kujawski
Department of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5065, USA Received 3 May 2001; received in revised form 20 December 2001; accepted 21 December 2001

Abstract Load ratio eects are of prime concern when modeling of fatigue crack growth (FCG) rate is required as a prerequisite for a reliable life prediction. The majority of research eorts regarding the load ratio eects are based on Elbers DKeff approach. However, there are intrinsic diculties encountered with its consistent application to FCG prediction. In this paper two popular crack-growth-life prediction codes FASTRAN and AFGROW are modied utilizing the enhanced partial crack closure model. The proposed utilization aggregates apparent closure mechanisms involved and demonstrates a better correlation and a signicant scatter reduction of FCG data taken from literature, especially in the near-threshold region. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Crack closure; Partial crack closure; Load ratio eects; Fatigue crack growth modeling

1. Introduction In 1970 Walker showed a close similarity in load ratio R min. load/max. load) eects between crack nucleation and crack propagation [1]. On the other hand, in 1971 Elber observed experimentally that fatigue crack surfaces behind the crack tip could be mechanically closed even at a far-eld tension load [2]. This discovery rst established that fatigue crack propagation is not only inuenced by the condition ahead of the crack tip, but also by the premature contact of the crack surfaces behind the crack tip. Such premature contact between the surfaces of a fatigue crack is generally referred to as crack closure and is thought to reduce the crack driving force due to load transmission thought the contact area in the crack wake. Usually, crack closure is measured using compliance methods, which are not directly related to the up-take of load along the crack wake. Also, it is well known that a number of dierent sources may induce fatigue crack closure, including crack wake plasticity, fracture surfaces oxidation/debris, and fracture surfaces mismatch/asperities.

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Elber was the rst researcher who introduced the eective range of the stress intensity factor (SIF), DKeff , dened as DKeff Kmax Kop ; 1

where Kmax is the stress intensity calculated for the maximum load, Pmax , and Kop is the stress intensity value for the crack opening load, Pop . This concept implies that only the load range between the opening load, Pop , and the maximum load, Pmax , would aect crack tip damage during the load cycle. Subsequently, the concept of crack closure has been widely adopted as the sole mechanism responsible for load ratio eects in metallic materials. Then, DKeff was commonly used to collapse the fatigue crack growth (FCG) data into a single (master) curve for dierent load ratios. However, despite a large body of data generated on crack closure over the 30 years, since Elbers discovery, there are still signicant diculties correlating the actual FCG behavior with DKeff in a consistent manner. These diculties may be caused by a custom practice to use Eq. (1) independently of crack closure mechanisms involved, partial crack closure eects and other inuences associated with measurement locations and techniques employed, test conditions, specimen thickness, crack size and geometry [311]. There are two popular codes FASTRAN [12] (developed by NASA) and AFGROW [13] (developed by the United States Air Force) which invoke Elbers DKeff for modeling of load ratio (or load interaction) eects on FGC behavior. In this paper, we examine and discuss how FASTRAN and AFGROW codes can benet from utilization of the enhanced partial crack closure model proposed recently in Ref. [14].

2. FASTRAN, AFGROW and partial crack closure concept FASTRAN and AFGROW are two popular crack-growth-life prediction codes widely used by government, industry, and academia. These two codes were recently discussed in detail in Ref. [15]. For the sake of continuity it is instructive to present their main features together with a brief review of the partial crack closure concept and its enhancement. 2.1. FASTRAN The popular FASTRAN code [12] was developed by Newman and uses his well-known numerical crack closure model [16], which assumes that the plastic wake behind the crack tip controls crack closure phenomenon. Based on this model, FASTRAN requires the use of a master curve for the FCG rate (da=dn) versus DKeff that must be established by the user for all load ratios considered. In other words, it postulates that the FCG rate, da=dn, is a unique function of the eective SIF range, DKeff . FASTRAN approximates the crack closure in a strain hardening material by using an equivalent perfectly plastic material model. To collapse the FCG data into the master curve for dierent load ratios, Newman uses constraint factors (as) dependent on an actual crack growth rate, da=dn. As a result, the detailed procedure used for choosing as values, to establish the single da=dn versus DKeff curve, is not widely understood and is often performed with Newmans assistance [15]. This approach presumes that fatigue crack closure can solely be modeled by the plastic wake and therefore, is independent of any other mechanisms that may be involved in the crack closure process. However, it is well know that depending on the crack growth rate or the environment (especially in the near-threshold region) other closure mechanisms linked to fracture surface corrosion, roughness, asperities, and debris may signicantly aect the eectiveness of the actual crack closure level.

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2.2. AFGROW The AFGROW code [13] was developed by Harter and uses the crack closure concept to determine DKeff with no assumption about the cause or mechanism associated with the closure phenomenon. Unlike the FASTRAN code, AFGROW does not require that all crack growth rate data (da=dn versus DKeff ) for dierent load ratios to be reduced to a single curve. In AFGROW, the opening SIF value, Kop , is determined by using a closure factor (Cf) which is a function of the applied load ratio (R) according to the following relationship: Cf 1 1 Cf 0 1 0:6R1 R; 2

where Cf 0 is the experimentally determined value of Cf at R 0 and it is assumed to be a material parameter. The closure factor Cf is dened as Cf Kop =Kmax : Using Eqs. (1) and (3), the Harters eective SIF range, DKeffH , is calculated from DKeffH Kmax 1 Cf: 4 3

Thus, the value of the Cf in the AFGROW code is a convenient means of determining the mechanical driving force DKeffH and is independent of the actual mechanism involved in the crack closure process. A graphical illustration of Eq. (2) is depicted in Fig. 1. Two additional parameters Rlow and Rhigh (shown in Fig. 1) are used to bound the range of applicability of Eq. (2). For example, when the applied load ratio R P Rhigh , the value of Cf is set equal to R, i.e. that Kop Kmin and the crack is simply free of closure at these high ratios. Similarly, since the minimum value of the Eq. (2) occurs at R 1=3, then, if R 6 1=3, Cf is set equal to Cf at R 1=3. In general, the crack closure model given by Eq. (2) can be used in conjunction with any crack growth rate relationship that provides the best t to the material being analyzed [15].

Fig. 1. Closure factor Cf versus stress ratio R.


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2.3. Partial closure model and its enhancement Recently, Paris, Tada and Donald [11] have introduced a new concept of partial crack closure for load reduction threshold testing. They demonstrated that the interference between crack faces at a small distance behind the crack tip only partially shields the crack tip from fatigue damage. In other words, a signicant contribution to fatigue damage may occur in the load range below the opening load, Pop , as measured by the compliance method. They modeled partial closure by means of a rigid wedge of uniform thickness, 2t, inserted with a small gap, d, behind a crack tip as depicted in Fig. 2a. It can be noted, that a similar rigidwedge model was used earlier by Suresh, Parks and Ritchie [17] to estimate the eect of crack tip oxide formation and its inuence on the near-threshold crack closure level. The corresponding stress intensity, Kw , due to the inserted wedge with no remote stress applied may be calculated as [11] Et Kw p ; 2pd 5

where E is the Youngs modulus. On the other hand, the relationship between stress intensity K, due to a remotely applied load, and the crack opening prole 2h at distance d behind the crack tip (see Fig. 2b) is given by [11] r Eh p K : 6 2 2d When h t the parabolic crack opening will contact the inserted wedge, simulating partial crack closure. Thus, at that instance K Kop and it follows that Kw 2 ; Kop p 7

which is the ratio between the stress intensity due to the inserted rigid wedge, Kw , and the stress intensity corresponding at the rst contact of crack faces (partial closure), Kop , under a remotely applied load. Based on Eq. (7) Paris, Tada and Donald [11] proposed to calculate an eective SIF range, DK2=PI0 , due to partial closure as 2 DK2=PI0 Kmax Kop : p 8

For aluminum alloys this new eective SIF range, given by Eq. (8), demonstrates a signicant improvement in the correlation of FCG rate versus load ratios R, namely, in the near-threshold region. On the

Fig. 2. Schematic of the partial crack closure concept: (a) with the crack open by rigid wedge without remote load applied, (b) with remote load applied.

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Fig. 3. Schematic of partial crack closure evolution.

other hand, at higher crack growth rates, e.g. at the Paris region, the traditional approach to crack closure given by Eq. (1) gives better correlation than the partial closure model [11]. Therefore, in Ref. [14] the author has proposed an enhancement of the Paris, Tada and Donalds partial closure model. The enhancement is based on the rationale that an apparent eectiveness of the crack closure phenomenon depends upon Kmax and the crack tip closure mechanisms. This rationale is illustrated in Fig. 3, which depicts a possible evolution of the crack closure mechanisms involved. In metals, in the near-threshold region, crack growth is usually associated with a single-shear mode of growth, which gives rise to a faceted fracture surface. This is because growth is taking place on one shear plane inclined to Mode I loading. If the crack tip shear is not fully reversed, as may happen due to chemical or physical interaction with the environment, this would result in a mismatch between upper and lower fracture surfaces promoting premature contact before the crack fully closes. Also the near-threshold growth is a predominantly non-continuous process, i.e. the growth rate of 108 mm/cycle the rate is less than one crystallographic lattice spacing of growth in 10 cycles. Thus, the near-threshold (roughness-dominated) closure would result in isolated contact between asperaties at some distance behind the crack tip. Such isolated contacts will induce partial crack closure at very low rates associated with near-threshold growth. In addition to roughness induced closure, corrosion/debris-induced closure is also often encountered at low growth rates. For example, at the knee region i.e. between the threshold and the Paris region corrosion/debris-induced closure could prevail. Then, at higher crack propagation rates, corresponding to the Paris region, the crack growth is predominantly continuous with crack advancement in each applied load cycle. The crack fracture surfaces are rather at due to two intense slip systems operating simultaneously at the crack tip. Also, it is evident, that the largest plastic stretch occurs just behind the crack tip where


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the crack tip opening is the smallest. Therefore, in the Paris stable crack growth regime the plasticityinduced closure would start from the crack tip and progress toward the crack mouth, so-called zipping or peeling closure mode. These three mechanisms of crack closure have been observed experimentally for modied 1070 steel [10]. The fracture surfaces studies were performed using electron microscopy to assess the relative importance of plasticity-, oxide-, and surface roughness-induced crack closure mechanisms. In the Paris region closure was dictated by the mechanism of plasticity-induced crack closure; while nearthreshold closure was nd to be dominated by the conjoint and mutually interactive oxide- and surface roughness-induced crack closure mechanisms [10]. Based on the above justication the following relation is proposed to calculate the modied eective SIF range, DKeffM ,     2 DKeffM Kmax Kop 1 1 g ; 9 p where g is a transition function which enhances the partial crack closure concept. The following form for g function was adopted from Ref. [14]    Kmax g exp 1 ; 10 Kmax TH where Kmax TH is the maximum SIF at threshold for a given R. The transition function g evolves Eq. (9) from a partial crack closure model at the near-threshold region to the conventional closure approach (given by Eq. (1)) at higher growth rates. Fig. 4 shows a qualitative prediction of Eq. (10). It is seen that at the nearthreshold g ! 1 since Kmax Kmax TH , whereas at the Paris region where Kmax ) Kmax TH the value of g approaches asymptotically to the abscissa i.e. g ! 0. Therefore, at the near-threshold region g % 1 and Eq. (9) would be reduced to Eq. (8). On the other hand, in Paris region the value of g ! 0 and consequently Eq. (9) is equivalent to Eq. (1). Thus, the transition function g evolves Eq. (9) from Paris, Tada and Donalds partial crack closure model at the near-threshold region to the conventional Elbers closure approach in the Paris region. Thus, an isolated contact between crack surfaces at some distance from the crack tip would correspond to 0 6 g 6 1, according to Eq. (10), whereas a zipping closure mode that starts from the crack tip would result in g % 0. Comparisons with experimental evidence for aluminum alloys, which supports the above concept, are presented fully for both long and physically short-cracks in Refs. [14,18], respectively.

Fig. 4. A graphical interpretation of Eq. (10).

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3. Utilization of the enhanced partial crack closure approach for FCG modeling Let us consider rst the case when the Kop values for dierent load ratios (R) were determined experimentally using for example, compliance method. In such cases the FCG data could be plotted using three methods for evaluating the eective crack driving force. These methods are (a) the appl method where DKappl Kmax Kmin ; (b) the e method using the conventional Elbers method according to Eq. (1); (c) the eM modied partial closure method according to (Eq. (9)).

Fig. 5. Fatigue crack growth data [11] of 6013-T651 aluminum alloy versus: (a) DKappl , (b) DKeff , and (c) DKeffM .


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Fig. 5 shows typical results for crack growth data taken from Ref. [11] for 6013-T651 aluminum alloy with load ratios, R, ranging from 1 to 0.7 were crack closure were determined using crack mouth displacement measurements. The data has been plotted using three methods described above. It is evident from Fig. 5(c) that dramatic improvement in correlation, especially in the near-threshold region, was obtained using the modied partial closure concept in comparison with the conventional Elbers closure approach represented by Fig. 5(b). It is noted that accurate modeling of the crack growth rate at the nearthreshold region is essential for reliable life prediction. More evidence supporting the enhanced partial closure model can be found elsewhere [14,18]. Now let us adopt the same rationale that was used to enhance the Paris, Tada and Donalds Eq. (8) to the Harter model given by Eq. (4). Thus, utilizing the enhanced partial crack closure concept to the Eq. (4), one will obtain the following modied Harters eective SIF range, DKeffHM      2 DKeffHM Kmax 1 Cf 1 1 g : 11 p Note that in the case when g 0 Eq. (11) reduces to the original Harters Eq. (4) and when g 1 the Cf value is multiplied by a partial closure factor 2=p. For further comparison, comprehensive crack growth data on high-strength aluminum alloy 7075-T6 and LC9cs clad alloy with the load ratios R of 1, 0, and 0.5 were chosen from Ref. [19]. The experimental

Fig. 6. Fatigue crack growth data [19] of 7075-T6 aluminum alloy versus: (a) DKappl , (b) Newmans DKeff , (c) Harters DKeffH , and (d) modied Harters DKeffHM .

D. Kujawski / Engineering Fracture Mechanics 69 (2002) 13151324


Fig. 7. Fatigue crack growth data [19] of CL9cs clad aluminum alloy versus: (a) DKappl , (b) Newmans DKeff , (c) Harters DKeffH , and (d) modied Harters DKeffHM .

data in these two aluminum alloys were analyzed and compared using the DKappl , Newmans DKeff based on his numerical model [16], Harters DKeffH [13], and the proposed modied Harters DKeffHM parameter given by Eq. (11). In Ref. [19] the DKappl and corresponding FCG rate data were given as lines drawn through the experimental points by a visual t; these lines are depicted in Figs. 6a and 7a. In addition, the crack growth data, da=dn, were plotted versus DKeff calculated from numerically modeled crack closure results. The left and right bounds of the scatter band (corresponding to the DKeff correlation obtained using Newmans crack closure data) for all three load ratios are shown in Figs. 6b and 7b for 7075-T6 and LC9cs alloys, respectively. Further Figs. 6c and 7c show the corresponding scatter band obtained using Eq. (4). The predictions obtained using Eq. (11) are depicted in Figs. 6d and 7d. It is evident from plots (d) that considerable improvement in correlation, especially at the near-threshold region, was obtained using the modied partial closure concept in comparison with Newmans predictions shown in (b) plots or conventional Harters closure model represented by (c) plots. Again, the (d) plots demonstrate a fairly good correlation for all three ratios investigated and the actual scatter band seems to be smaller than that on the (b) or (c) plots. The results suggest that utilizing the enhanced partial crack closure concept to the Newman numerical closure model could signicantly reduce the scatter band especially in the near-threshold region. The FASTRAN uses a modied Dugdale model, which is a good approximation of a plane stress condition. As a result, it usually exhibits continuous, not discontinuous, closure. However, at the near-threshold region the plane strain condition prevails and in order to match the numerical crack closure levels with that


D. Kujawski / Engineering Fracture Mechanics 69 (2002) 13151324

obtained experimentally an appropriate constraint factors as are used. Experimental results are usually obtained based on remote compliance measurements for which a special correction based on the enhanced partial closure is needed. Therefore, in the near-threshold region a similar correction as that for experimentally measured crack closure data is also needed for the FASTRAN crack closure data.

4. Conclusions A potential utilization of the recently proposed enhanced partial crack closure model for FCG prediction was examined and discussed. The proposed utilization unies the modeling methodology related to load ratio eects and incorporates in a consistent manner the apparent closure-mechanisms involved. The proposed approach yields a fairly good correlation between load ratio eects and crack propagation rates especially in the near-threshold region for aluminum alloys compared herein. Results indicate that utilization of the proposed approach would improve accuracy of the FCG modeling and subsequently would increase the reliability of fatigue life predictions. Further study is needed to examine a potential application of this new approach for other metallic materials and alloys regarding a reliable modeling of the load ratio eects on FCG behavior.

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