The consideration of fracture behavior should be a matter of vital concern in current design efforts. Many materials exhibit grossly different behavior when discontinuities are present in the structure. These may be inherent in the material or may stem from poor manufacturing, handling, and /or design practices. Inclusion of fracture behavior in the design models is the subject of fracture mechanics. Ultimately, a knowledge of fatigue and fracture becomes very important in avoiding disaster.
This paper is written with two primary purposes: to characterize the physical nature of fracture, and to dramatize the need to characterize the central flat fracture differently from the surface, shear fracture. To this end, the contents of the paper are organized as follows: (1) validity limits of fracture mechanics: this information was originally developed for the purpose of extracting similar fracture data and will be used here to help characterize bulk constraint effects and to establish the existence of the surface effect; (2) analysis of crack face displacements of planar specimens subjected to loads: this includes actual crack-, separation-, and stretch-profiles; and (3) consideration of three-dimensional fracture in light of the existence of two distinct fracture zones that exhibit different failure mechanisms; for this purpose, G and J as a function of depth below surface are discussed, as well as several constraint factors as a function of depth.