You are on page 1of 49

Fracture Toughness I

Presented by Carl Ziegler
Stork Testing and Metallurgical Consulting
Houston, TX
Fracture Toughness Part I
Fracture is all about energy, the energy
needed to break the atomic bonds of the
material and produce a new surface.
Fracture Mechanics is about using that to
provide a method of calculating whether
something will fracture!
Energy (ii)
Early work showed that the theoretical
strength of a material was far superior to
that actually achieved, and research was
carried out as to why there was such a
huge difference:
Calculated strength ~10,000 MPa
Actual Strength ~100MPa

Griffith’s Crack Theory
Fracture Mechanics theory was invented during
World War I by the English aeronautical
engineer, A.A. Griffith, to explain the failure of
brittle materials. Griffith's work was motivated by
two contradictory facts:
The theoretical stress needed for breaking atomic
bonds is approximately 10,000 MPa.
The stress needed to fracture bulk glass is around
100 MPa.
He discovered that the reduction in strength
could be related to the size of defects in the

A simple experiment to show this:
 Take glass microscope slides and heat
them to just below melting and hold for an
hour or so
 Test the slide by bending and record the
load to break it
 Leave a slide for a few days and then test
it the same way
 Test a slide that has not been heated
The loads required to break the slides
show significant variation with the freshly
heated slide showing significantly higher
load bearing capacity than the other
slides. Although still nowhere near the
theoretical strength, the heated slide can
be 5-10 times stronger.
The results of the unheated slide and the
one left for a period of time are very similar
The heated slide has flowed and filled small
surface cracks, presenting a material much
closer to a uniform uncracked material, and
needing more energy to break and create two
new surfaces.
The untreated slide has a surface covered with
fine micro cracks, which reduce the energy
needed to produce the new surfaces.
The treated slide gradually gains surface cracks
due to strains in the material.

Griffith’s Crack Theory (ii)
Griffith’s theory was based around Brittle
Fracture: failure being sudden, no crack growth
prior to the failure, and little-to-no ductility.
It also assumes an infinitely wide plate so that
edge effects do not apply (edges cause ductility),
and assumed an infinitely sharp notch.
This was not really appropriate to most
engineering materials, which typically exhibit
some ductility before failure.

Irwin's modification of Griffith's
energy relation
Irwin, working out of U.S. Navy Research
laboratories in WWII, expanded Griffith's
theory to allow for the natural ductility of most
engineering materials. This work assumed
that the plastic deformation at the crack tip
was small in relation to the crack length.
Later work by Irwin and others expanded the
applicability of the theories to engineering
Fracture Toughness Part II:

How it’s used
How it’s used
 Fracture mechanics testing derives a value that can be
used in design work to ensure that the fabrication does
not fail by brittle fracture. Tied in with fatigue work and
corrosion rates, it can allow a life (or a remaining life) to
be assigned to a fabrication.
 The nature of that value is dependent on the type of
fracture toughness testing undertaken, but all values can
be used for the same end result.
 Note that Charpy testing is a form of fracture toughness
testing, but its small size and high impact rate make its
values more useful as acceptance tests rather than as
design values.
Know any 2, calculate the 3rd
Defect size Loading
How it’s used (ii)

 Known fracture toughness
properties have allowed pipelines to
be upgraded for higher production
without resorting to costly new
 Structures found to contain cracks
can be analyzed to predict
remaining life spans, potentially
saving on redundant repairs.
 Pressure vessels can be designed
on a “leak before break” principle,
saving on costs and increasing

The fracture toughness value calculated by any
method can be used by engineers to provide
data on the safety of a design:

From a Known Toughness
Using a known toughness material – from
qualification tests possibly:
The maximum stress condition a structure can
maintain with a known defect size can be
calculated. Can be used in design or
upgrading work.
The maximum size of defect a loaded
structure can have in it without failure can be
calculated. This can be used to set NDE
acceptance requirements .
For Known Stress Conditions
The minimum fracture
toughness required to prevent
failure with a known defect size
– an existing defect, or one
extrapolated to a certain life.
The maximum size of defect
that can be sustained for a
known toughness
Using the calculated stresses from engineering
calculations or measurements allows you to
From a Known Defect Size
Using a known pre-existing defect or the
minimum detectable by NDE, allows you
to calculate:
The maximum load sustainable without
The minimum fracture toughness value
required to prevent failure.
Fracture Toughness Part III

Fracture Mechanics Specifications
US Specifications
ASTM E1290
ASTM E1820
ASTM E1152
ASTM E1737
ASTM 561
Plus 117 more in ASTM
Non US Specifications
BS 7448 pts 1 -4
ISO 15853
EN ISO 12737
Plus over 200 other
referenced specifications
There are a multitude of specifications in use for
Fracture Toughness testing covering structural
steels, aluminum alloys, ceramics etc.
Specifications Used
 In the oil business, we deal mainly with ferrous materials,
but fracture toughness tests are used for pressure vessels
(chemical and nuclear), aviation, structural etc.
 Oil has primarily used the CTOD tests using SENB (single
edged notched beam) samples.
 R curve tests are carried out more often to give a value of
toughness at the initiation of tearing, and is becoming
more common.
 K1C is not typically carried out, as few materials for
offshore need that form of testing. It is, however, very
common in pressure vessel and aviation fields with high
strength low ductility materials

Specifications Used
ASTM E399
 For K1C tests, the earliest formal toughness
Testing uses the CTS sample.
The specialist machining requirements of this
specification means that standard size
samples are typically used., typically in ½” or
12.5mm gradations.
Specifications Used
ASTM E1290
This specification has been changed and is
now less relevant to the Oil industry with its
highly ductile materials.
Specified in API1104 originally, but is limited
now in Oil industry work due to the inability to
derive δm values.
Current specification requires R curve
determinations when a material does not fail
by “C” or “U,” causing additional costs and
Specifications Used
ASTM E1820
This specification, like E1290, seems to have been
revised primarily to the aerospace and pressure vessel
Current version has revised fatigue specifications
which extend preparation to several days with
increased expense. Used for R curves.
Specification no longer has a “M” value, but has a new
“EOT” – end of test – value instead, which is the value
when you stop the test and are no longer at maximum
load, so it is dependent on when “you” stop.
Specifications Used
BS 7448-1/2
The most commonly used specification for
CTOD tests.
Part 1 covers base materials.
Part 2 covers welded materials.
Part 2 has requirements for notch placement
and validations, these have been seldom
used in USA but are very common in
European qualification work; current
specifications from several oil companies are
now requiring these requirements.

Fracture Toughness Part IV

What affects toughness
Plane Strain and Plain Stress
Two terms that help explain some of the aspects
of Fracture Toughness that are intrinsic to the
testing of material and defining their toughness
It should be noted that the effect of straining rate
is not covered in detail here. Some materials
show a strain rate dependence which can serve
to effectively increase the yield point of a
material. So, for the following discussions bear
in mind that sudden impacts can make a
difference to toughness properties.
Plane Strain
A material in a plane strain
condition shows strains only
perpendicular to the crack
direction, with no strains along the
crack direction.
This is most nearly attained in
large sections with material either
side of the crack preventing
movement of the material.
Plane Strain conditions give the
lowest Fracture Toughness values
and typically produce brittle
Plane Stress
 Loads across the crack produce a
displacement along the crack; this
becomes more prevalent the closer
to the surface and the lower the
yield of the material (and is hence
affected by temperature and
material thickness).
 Under Plane Stress conditions
materials fail by a ductile mode.
 This condition is most prevalent in
oil industry engineering materials
due to thickness and yields.
The Effect of Thickness
As materials get
thinner, the
amount of
material under
plane stress
increasing the
likelihood of a
ductile failure



Plane Stress
Plane Strain
Mixed Mode
The Effect of Thickness
Examination of a fracture
surface of a fracture
mechanics test can show
the extent of the plane
strain and plane stress
seen by the sample. The
more flat, featureless area
there is, typically the lower
the toughness values, as
more of the material is in
the Plane Strain condition.
The Effect of Yield
The higher the yield of the material, the
closer to the surface you can be and still
have a Plane Strain condition. Since the
toughness of the sample is dependent on
the amount of Plane Strain material, the
more there is, the lower the toughness.
This partially explains why materials get
more brittle as they get colder.
The Effect of Temperature
As temperature decreases, the toughness
of a material decreases. The extent of
that change, and the temperature over
which it occurs, varies from material to
material. Some materials exhibit a sharp
transition others a gentle change, while
others show no distinct change at all.
The Effect of Temperature



Brittle Fracture
Ductile Failure
The Effect of Loading Rate
As strain rates increase the toughness at
any temperature tends to decrease, the
amount this happens is dependent on the
The Effect of Loading Rate
The Effect of Environment
The effect of environment on toughness is
seldom directly tested, although it can have
a significant effect. For design work,
corrosion, etc. is considered in the life
calculations, and it is unlikely that a
material susceptible to something like
stress corrosion cracking or hydrogen
embrittlement would be used in a structural
Testing Control
Servo hydraulic machines were uncommon
when FM testing first started, so 2 different
control methods were needed to allow both
types of equipment to be used:
Load – for hydraulic machines which could only
control a load change
Displacement – for screw driven machines which
were optimal for displacement control.
Both control modes were used, however most
tests now are in displacement control
Fracture Toughness Part V

Testing: Sample Size!
The effect of Plane Strain on the toughness of a
material is the reason behind test requirements:
To test a minimum thickness of material . . .
ensures that the value quoted is the minimum for
that configuration. The value of thickness is
usually related to the material in the most highly
stressed areas, or those most likely to contain
defects (e.g. weld necks). The thicker the
material, the lower the value typically, although
there is a minimum value for a material it may be
at thicknesses above those that are used, or that
can be tested, or at temperatures below those
ever seen in service.
Testing: Sample Size! (ii)
To test at a service temperature . . .
Again, ensures that the maximum Plane
Strain content is tested to give the lowest
Often a requirement may have a temperature
below the service temperature, this is used to
cover thicker materials, strain rates, or safety

Fracture Mechanics
 An appropriate sample is prepared:
for CTOD, the maximum size of sample possible is
usually made.
for K
the size is typically standardized to a series of
fixed dimension, ideally larger than the minimum
thickness required to be tested.
 By fatigue, the machined notch is extended to provide the
sharpest possible notch tip as required by the theory.
 Controlled loading of the sample is carried out, measuring
the load and the mouth opening/load point displacement.
 The relevant Fracture toughness value and its validity is
Fracture Toughness Part VI

Other tests
Other Fracture Mechanics Tests
Several other fracture toughness tests
have been put forward for a variety of
reasons. Many have not lasted, others
have found niche areas, whilst others
needed machine and measurement
advances before they could be effectively
Other Tests (i)
Charpy Correlations
A CTOD test is large and expensive, both as
a test and in preparation of material,
especially in the heavy section materials used
in the 70s-90s. Correlations to impact
toughnesses were published on a regular
basis with great promises of the cost savings.
None of these would do more than correlate a
particular metal at a particular temperature
range – normally upper or lower shelves. It
never replaced CTOD and other full size tests
Other Tests (ii)
Wide Plate testing
Using large section plates loaded in tension, a
fast fracture was started at one edge of the
plate and a running crack developed.
The test was too expensive for the offshore oil
business at the time as it was only really
available only at the R&D center that put the
test up as a viable alternate to CTOD testing
Other Tests (iii)
Single Edged Notch Testing (SENT)
Becoming more common, this test uses a
tensile sample notched on one side, and
tested in tension to provide a fracture
toughness value.
Double Edged Notched Tensile (DENT)
Like the SENT but with both edges notched,
the problems of cracking these really prevents
their use.
Other Tests (iv)
Circular Cracked Tensile
This uses a round tensile sample which is
notched and has a circular fatigue crack
introduced into the sample before testing.
Problems with getting consistently valid cracks
stopped this from becoming a cheap
alternative to CTOD testing. A method was
developed, but by that time CTOD had become
the accepted test in the offshore oil business
End of Fracture Toughness I

Part II to be continued
Part II of this webinar will cover specifics of
the main methods of testing fracture
toughness samples.
Validation will be described
The metallurgical examinations to BS7448 pt 2
Other tests