Experimental And Numerical Studies On Fatigue Crack Growth Of Single And Interacting Multiple Surface Cracks
Patel, Surendra Kumar
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Design based on damage tolerance concepts has become mandatory in high technology structures. These concepts are also essential for evaluating life extension of aged structures which are in service beyond originally stipulated life. Fracture analysis of such structures in the presence of single or multiple three-dimensional flaws is essential for this approach. Surface cracks are the most commonly occurring flaws and development of accurate methods of analysis for such cracks is essential for structural integrity evaluation of newly designed or aged structures. The crack fronts of these surface flaws are usually approximated mathematically to be of either part-elliptical or part-circular in geometry. In this thesis, some of the issues related to fatigue crack growth of single and multiple surface cracks are studied in detail. Here emphasis is given to the development of simple and accurate post-processing techniques to estimate stress intensity factors for surface cracks, development and/or implementation of simple numerical methods to simulate three-dimensional single and multiple cracks in fatigue and their experimental verification. Modified virtual crack closure integral (MVCCI) technique for estimation of strain energy release rates has been improved (chapter II) to deal with curved crack front and unequal elements across the crack front. The accuracy of this method is evaluated and presented in this chapter for certain benchmark surface flaw problems. The improved MVCCI is used in the investigation of interaction between multiple surface cracks in three-dimensional solids. The interaction effects are studied for both interacting and coalescing phases as observed to occur in the growth of multiple surface cracks. Extensive numerical work is performed to study the effects of various parameters such as aspect ratio, thickness ratio, interspacing on the interaction factors. These solutions are used in formulating empirical equations to estimate interaction factors. This facilitated the development of a simple semi-analytical method to study fatigue crack growth of multiple cracks. The growth of surface cracks under fatigue loading in the finite width specimens of an aero-engine superalloy has been studied experimentally (presented in chapter III). Four configurations for single semi-elliptical cracks are considered. Fatigue crack growth is simulated by two models viz. two degrees of freedom and "multi degrees of freedom with ellipse fit'. These models are sometimes referred to as semi-analytical models as the crack growth is predicted by numerical integration combining Paris equation with an empirical form of stress intensity factor solution. In order to use two degrees of freedom model for fatigue crack growth prediction of semi-elliptical cracks, empirical solution for the Ml range of geometric parameters for stress intensity factor is required for the considered configurations. The available Newman-Raju solution is useful for this purpose within a limited range of surface crack length to width (c/W) of the specimen. Based on the present finite element results, the empirical equations are developed for extended values of c/W. It is well understood that the fatigue prediction for two-dimensional crack can be improved by inclusion of crack closure effects. Usually, in semi-analytical models for growth of surface cracks under fatigue loading, the crack closure is included as a ratio of crack closure factor at surface and depth locations of semi-elliptical crack. In the present work, this ratio for the considered material of specimens is obtained by an experimental study. The difference in characteristics of preferred propagation path between semi-elliptical crack in a finite width plate and a wide plate is clearly brought out. Current crack growth predictions for most of the structures are based on the presence of only a single crack. However, in structures several cracks may initiate simultaneously within a stress critical zone and may interact depending upon their geometry, spatial location, structure geometry and mode of loading. In this work various configurations of twin semi-elliptical cracks have been studied by experiments. The beachmarks created on the specimens during experiments are used in the investigation of crack shape progression during fatigue. A three degrees of freedom crack growth model for interacting and coalescing cracks has been proposed. The experimentally determined crack shape and lives have been compared with the corresponding values from numerical simulation. The correlation of experimental results with numerical predictions was carried out through improved MVCCI for eight-noded brick elements. This has worked well in the configurations analysed. However, it is known in literature that there are benefits of using 20-noded singular elements. There could be special situations where the regular elements could fail, and singular elements could be essential. For this purpose, further development of MVCCI were carried out using 20-noded quarter-point elements (presented in chapter IV). Also a novel technique of decomposed crack closure integral (DCCI) was developed (presented in chapter V) for both regular and singular elements to represent the variation of MVCCI more accurately along the crack front. It is well known that quarter-point elements at crack front produce the required singularity at the crack tip and give accurate stress distribution with fewer degrees of freedom than conventional elements. Thus to develop more efficient post-processing tools, the MVCCI expressions are formulated for 20-noded singular quarter-point element for various assumptions regarding stress and displacement distributions in the elements across the crack front. A comprehensive study is presented (chapter IV) on MVCCI for 20-noded singular brick element including various simplified expressions for three-dimensional part-through cracks in pure and mixed-mode state of deformation of fracture. The developed MVCCI expressions are also valid for 15-noded quarter-point Penta elements. The reduction in model size can further be obtained if 12-noded three-dimensional singular element is employed at the crack front and eight-noded elements are used away from the crack front. The MVCCI expressions are also developed for 12-noded singular element and their accuracy is evaluated by numerical solutions. Presently, MVCCI, estimates the average stress intensity factor at the center of each element along the crack front. In this thesis, a Decomposed Crack Closure Integral (DCCI) is formulated to represent an assumed variation of stress intensity factor along the crack front in each element. The DCCI is formulated for 8-noded brick, 20-noded conventional brick and 20-noded singular brick elements. The numerical examples presented here deal with three-dimensional problems of patch repair technology and part-through cracks. The technique showed a major advantage for the patch repair problems where SIF variations along the crack front are of significance and large mesh sizes are computationally expensive. This along with MVCCI for 12-noded and 20-noded singular elements formed a part of the work on development of accurate and effective post-processing tools. It is expected that the present work will be helpful in damage tolerance design and assessment of aerospace structures and the experimental work performed as a part of this thesis will enhance confidence in the damage tolerance analysis. The thesis is concluded in chapter VI presenting the contributions of this thesis and projecting future lines of work possible in this area.
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