SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2000

Technical Basis for the Master Curve Concept of Fracture Toughness Evaluations in the Transition Range


An American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard method (E 1921-97) has been developed that exclusively uses fracture mechanics test practices and advanced statistical methods to establish the ductile-to-brittle transition range of fracture toughness for structural steels. The development of suitably accurate analyses had been slowed in the past due to an incomplete understanding of the operational mechanisms that control the fracture toughness behavior of structural steels. New perspectives taken are (1) that dominant linear-elastic conditions need not be rigidly enforced in specimens and (2) that the effect of specimen size on fracture toughness performance is mostly controlled by a weakest-link mechanism instead of being completely controlled by crack tip constraint conditions. The weakest-link behavior is defined from local cleavage crack initiators such as precipitates, inclusions, and grain boundary embrittlement, namely, all microstructural features in steel. Statistical models can be built upon such mechanisms that result in defined fracture probability levels and, when coupled to a master curve concept, can more accurately define the true location of the ductile-to-brittle transition temperature.

An integral part of the ASTM test standard development work has been the production of a supporting technical basis document. This document presents substantial background data and supporting theoretical aspects that have been used to justify the method development. The paper will include some of the salient features presented.

Author Information

McCabe, DE
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
Merkle, JG
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
Wallin, K
Technical Research Centre of Finland, Espoo, Finland
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Developed by Committee: E08
Pages: 21–33
DOI: 10.1520/STP13392S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5418-6
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2617-6