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Significance and Use
This practice is suitable for monolithic and some composite ceramics, for example, particulate- and whisker-reinforced and continuous-grain-boundary phase ceramics. (Long- or continuous-fiber reinforced ceramics are excluded.) For some materials, the location and identification of fracture origins may not be possible due to the specific microstructure.
This practice is principally oriented towards characterization of fracture origins in specimens loaded in so-called fast fracture testing, but the approach can be extended to include other modes of loading as well.
The procedures described within are primarily applicable to mechanical test specimens, although the same procedures may be relevant to component failure analyses as well. It is customary practice to test a number of specimens (constituting a sample) to permit statistical analysis of the variability of the material's strength. It is usually not difficult to test the specimens in a manner that will facilitate subsequent fractographic analysis. This may not be the case with component failure analyses. Component failure analysis is sometimes aided by cutting test pieces from the component and fracturing the test pieces. Fracture markings and fracture origins from the latter may aid component interpretation.
Optimum fractographic analysis requires examination of as many similar specimens or components as possible. This will enhance the chances of successful interpretations. Examination of only one or a few specimens can be misleading. Of course, in some instances the fractographer may have access to only one or a few fractured specimens or components.
Successful and complete fractography also requires careful consideration of all ancillary information that may be available, such as microstructural characteristics, material fabrication, properties and service histories, component or specimen machining, or preparation techniques.
Fractographic inspection and analysis can be a time-consuming process. Experience will in general enhance the chances of correct interpretation and characterization, but will not obviate the need for time and patience. Repeat examinations are often fruitful. For example, a particular origin type or key feature may be overlooked in the first few test pieces of a sample set. As the fractographer gains experience by looking at multiple examples, he or she may begin to appreciate some key feature that was initially overlooked.
This practice is applicable to quality control, materials research and development, and design. It will also serve as a bridge between mechanical testing standards and statistical analysis practices to permit comprehensive interpretation of data for design. An important feature of this practice is the adoption of a consistent manner of characterizing fracture origins, including origin nomenclature. This will further enable the construction of efficient computer databases.
The irregularities which act as fracture origins in advanced ceramics can develop during or after fabrication of the material. Large irregularities (relative to the average size of the microstructural features) such as pores, agglomerates, and inclusions are typically introduced during processing and can (in one sense) be considered intrinsic to the manufacturing process. Other origins can be introduced after processing as a result of machining, handling, impact, wear, oxidation, and corrosion. These can be considered extrinsic origins. However, machining damage may be considered intrinsic to the manufacturing procedure to the extent that machining is a normal step of producing a finished specimen or component.
Regardless of how origins develop they are either inherently volume-distributed throughout the bulk of the ceramic material (for example, agglomerates, large grains, or pores) or inherently surface-distributed on the ceramic material (for example, handling damage, pits from oxidation, or corrosion). The distinction is a consequence of how the specimen or component is prepared. For example, inclusions may be scattered throughout the bulk ceramic material (inherently volume-distributed), but when a particular specimen is cut from the bulk ceramic material the strength-limiting inclusion could be located at the specimen surface. Thus a volume-distributed origin in a ceramic material can be in any specimen, volume-located, surface-located, near surface-located, or edge-located.
As fabricators improve materials by careful process control, thus eliminating undesirable microstructural features, advanced ceramics will become strength-limited by origins that come from the large-sized end of the distribution of the normal microstructural features. Such origins can be considered mainstream microstructural features. In other instances, regions of slightly different microstructure (locally higher microporosity) or microcracks between grains (possibly introduced by thermoelastic strains) may act as failure origins. These origins will blend in well with the background microstructure and will be extremely difficult or impossible to discern even with careful scanning electron microscopy. This practice can still be used to analyze such failure origins, but specific origin definitions may need to be devised.
1.1 The objective of this practice is to provide an efficient and consistent methodology to locate and characterize fracture origins in advanced ceramics. It is applicable to advanced ceramics which are brittle; that is, the material adheres to Hooke's Law up to fracture. In such materials, fracture commences from a single location which is termed the fracture origin. The fracture origin in brittle ceramics normally consists of some irregularity or singularity in the material which acts as a stress concentrator. In the parlance of the engineer or scientist, these irregularities are termed flaws or defects. The latter should not be construed to mean that the material has been prepared improperly or is somehow faulty.
1.2 Although this practice is primarily intended for laboratory test piece analysis, the general concepts and procedures may be applied to component failure analyses as well. In many cases, component failure analysis may be aided by cutting laboratory test pieces out of the component. Information gleaned from testing the laboratory pieces (for example, flaw types, general fracture features, fracture mirror constants) may then aid interpretation of component fractures. For more information on component fracture analysis, see Ref (1).
1.3 This practice supersedes Military Handbook 790.
1.4 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.
2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.
C162 Terminology of Glass and Glass Products
C242 Terminology of Ceramic Whitewares and Related Products
C1036 Specification for Flat Glass
C1145 Terminology of Advanced Ceramics
C1161 Test Method for Flexural Strength of Advanced Ceramics at Ambient Temperature
C1211 Test Method for Flexural Strength of Advanced Ceramics at Elevated Temperatures
C1239 Practice for Reporting Uniaxial Strength Data and Estimating Weibull Distribution Parameters for Advanced Ceramics
F109 Terminology Relating to Surface Imperfections on Ceramics
Military StandardMilitaryHandbook790, Fractography and Characterization of Fracture Origins in Advanced Structural Ceramics, 1992
ICS Number Code 19.060 (Mechanical testing); 81.060.99 (Other standards related to ceramics); 81.060.30 (Advanced ceramics)