Fracture and Fatigue Crack Propagation in Graded Composites


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The propagation of cracks in graded materials under monotonic and cyclic loading was investigated via experiment and simulation. Graded alumina/epoxy composite specimens exhibiting a variation in composition from 5% to 65% epoxy, representing a twenty-fold variation in Young’s modulus, across a region of width between 6 and 20 mm, were produced by a multistep infiltration technique. Crack initiation and propagation under monotonic and cyclic four-point bend loading was monitored and crack trajectories and growth rates were measured. Initial crack deflection was observed, in agreement with theoretical and computational predictions in the literature. Cracks exhibited further deviation as they traversed the graded region. Higher deflection angles were observed for specimens with steeper gradients, and for those with cracks initially located closer to the compliant side of the gradient. Homogeneous specimens in the composition range 5% to 55% epoxy were also produced to investigate the composition dependence of mechanical, fracture and fatigue properties for aluminaepoxy composites. Crack propagation resistance appeared to differ between monotonic and cyclic loading, though an increase with crack extension was observed in both cases. The significant variation in measured crack-propagation resistance, for cracks in graded specimens, was accordingly interpreted as a combination of crack-extension effect and spatial variation of both intrinsic and extrinsic crack-growth resistance. A finite element model has been developed to simulate the propagation process, with particular attention paid to crack propagation and deflection criteria. Results from homogeneous specimens were utilised for estimating spatial property distribution and crack-extension effects in the graded specimens. Experimental results for crack path and crack-growth resistance profile show good agreement with modeling predictions.



Materials Science Forum (Volumes 492-493)

Edited by:

Omer Van der Biest, Michael Gasik, Jozef Vleugels






M. Tilbrook et al., "Fracture and Fatigue Crack Propagation in Graded Composites", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 492-493, pp. 573-580, 2005

Online since:

August 2005




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