Volume 9, Issue 1 (January 2012)
Fatigue Crack Closure in Residual Stress Bearing Materials
During fatigue crack growth, the two opposing faces of a fatigue crack can make physical contact while unloading from a maximum level of cyclic load, so that the crack tip state at the minimum cyclic load depends on the host geometry, material properties, and loading history. Although significant work has been performed in order to examine the effects of crack face contact, often called crack closure, under variations of applied loading history, little work has been done to understand the details of crack closure in materials that contain bulk residual stress fields. For an elastic material, variations of applied load history create changes in the crack tip behavior that are directly related to the current levels of cyclic stress, with no effect of prior loading. For an elastic-plastic material, variations of the applied load history cause the crack tip behavior to depend on the current and former loading cycles, because of plastic deformation in the crack wake. In an elastic material with bulk residual stress, crack closure occurs because the strain fields locked into the material, which are the source of the residual stress, alter the shape of the crack faces, so that the details of closure depend on the residual stress field and crack geometry. Residual stresses might therefore affect fatigue crack growth in two distinct ways: first, by combining with applied loads to affect the stress intensity factor (at the current crack size), and second, by altering crack closure. We emphasize that the effect of bulk residual stresses on crack closure described here is an elastic effect, which distinguishes it from the more commonly discussed forms of closure, such as arise from plasticity or roughness. The paper describes a means to forecast crack closure due to bulk residual stress fields and assesses schemes to account for its effects on fatigue crack growth.