Published: Jan 2005
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FRACTURE MECHANICS IS A RELATIVELY NEW SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINE that has effectively added a useful advancement to the technology of the mechanics of materials. Fracture mechanics provides the tools to compute the capability of brittle materials to sustain cracks stably while under load (stress). This new technology has been most successfully applied to aerospace materials, which usually have ultra-high strength and, therefore, are usually highly frangible. More recent attempts to adapt this new technology to structural steels has encountered added difficulties, and considerably more technological development had to be undertaken. Specifically, the added difficulty results from the combination of higher fracture toughness and lower yield strength, resulting in more plastic deformation involved in the fracture toughness development process. Consequently, several elastic-plastic analysis procedures have been introduced [1-3], of which the most widely used has been the J-integral approach, conceived in the early 1970s. However, until recently, the main use of J has been for the characterization of ductile tearing resistance in terms of J-R curves and JIc [4,5].