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~ Pergamon Engineering Fracture Mechanics Vol. 53, No. 3, pp.

345-361, 1996

0013-7944(95)00149-2
Copyright © 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd.
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
0013-7944/96 $15.00 + 0.00

ANALYSING THE FATIGUE CRACK GROWTH IN


STRUCTURAL DETAILS

G. S. WANG
Department of Light-Weight Structures, The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm and The
Structures Division, The Aeronautical Research Institute of Sweden, P.O. Box 11021, S-161 11, Bromma,
Sweden

Abstraet--A unified procedure is proposed to compute both the stress intensity factor (SIF) and the fatigue
crack growth for part-through cracks in complex structural details. This method is an extension of the
approximate three-dimensional (3D) weight function (WF) method in solving both SIF and fatigue crack
growth problems for complex structural details using only the stress distribution in perspectivecrack sites.
The fatigue crack growth analysis is based on the plastic deformation induced crack closure mechanism
which is determined according to the strip yieldingmodel. Cycle-by-cyclefatigue crack growth predictions
have been made based on Elber's crack growth relation. The fatigue crack growth analysisis closelyrelated
to the cyclic stress experience, the configuration of structural detail, the applied load spectrum and the
material property. The advantage and limitation of the method have been discussed. Some examples have
been provided for the fatigue crack growth analyses for structural details of a Swedish fighter/attacker
aircraft to demonstrate the methodology. This paper shows that an efficient, solid, unified theoretical
frame can be established for reliable analyses of the fatigue crack growth in complex structural details
for general engineering applications.

INTRODUCTION
IN THE engineering fatigue crack growth analysis, fracture mechanics based models are often used.
The Paris [l, 2] type of crack growth laws [3-5] (including Wheeler's [6] and Willenborg's [7]
models, etc.), the C T O D method [8] and Elber's relation [9] etc. are based on various aspects of
the crack tip plastic deformation. The Paris law benefits from the close relation between the crack
tip plasticity and stress intensity factor (SIF)[10, 11]. The C T O D method is intended to use the
crack tip plastic deformation directly as a parameter to characterise the fatigue crack growth.
Eiber's closure model is a supplement to the Paris law by taking consideration of the plastic
deformation on the fatigue crack surface. The retardation models of Wheeler and Willenborg are
more specified to the effect of overload to the crack growth rate by accounting for the plastic zone
change due to overload. In these models, the SIF range, AK, is used, but modified in one way or
another. The partial success of these models for different aspects of fatigue crack growth suggests
that a general fatigue crack growth model can possibly be developed if the plasticity around the
crack tip under cyclic loading can be analysed.
In a fatigue crack growth process, the structure is subjected to cyclic loading and unloading.
During the process o f unloading, the same as for the loading, the material at the crack tip cannot
sustain the high compression stress concentration at the crack tip due to the plastic deformation
at the crack tip under loading process, a reverse yielding will happen at some level -fiery [see
Fig. l(d)], where fl is used to represent the Baushinger effect. As a result of this reverse yielding,
the crack tip is resharpened after a crack increment due to the plastic deformation for both loading
and unloading. It is possible that the reverse yielding adds another crack length increment due to
the damage of plastic buckling. The resharpening of the crack tip creates a possibility for the crack
increment for the next load cycle. The movement of the reverse yielding as a function of the cyclic
load history is probably the major plasticity driving force for the fatigue crack growth. Here, the
plastic stretches on the crack surface play the same ihaportant role to affect the crack growth as
the plastic deformation ahead of the crack tip.
The reverse yielding at the crack tip begins almost immediately after unloading because of the
highest stress concentration at the crack tip caused by previous plastic deformations. The reverse
yielding will be dramatically reduced if the crack surface begins to contact. The amount of reverse
yielding during the unloading process may determine the amount of crack length increment for
each load cycle. The reverse yielding after the crack closure is insignificant as the crack tip stress
345
346 G.S. WANG

Om. , (a) (b)

Om,n

Om,0; (c)
Fig. I. Schematicof the plasticityinducedcrack closure and the strip fatiguecrack growth model.

concentration is now substantially reduced. The AKo~is closely related to the reverse yielding, the
fatigue crack growth driving force, because it accounts for the SIF for the load range when the
crack tip is still open. As a fatigue crack growth parameter, AK~ correlates well the material
property to the mechanical crack driving force at the crack tip so long as the crack opening level
can be determined. Similar to the AK concept, AKc~rhas an advantage of simplicity compared to
the direct evaluation of the crack tip reverse yielding.
The application of the AKin-concept is not simple. The crack closure is a kind of structural
memory for a load history. It varies as a complicate function of load spectrum and geometry. A
detailed plastic deformation solution both ahead of the crack tip and on the crack surfaces is needed
to determine AKc~based on the cycle-by-cycle load sequence which simulates the load experience
of structures. Accurate solution can only be realised by using numerical methods for general
problems based on the cycle-by-cycle crack growth evaluation under variable amplitude loading.
However significant advances have been made for the general purpose numerical methods
such as the FE method[12, 13], the boundary element method[14, 15], the alternative FE
method [16, 17] and the p-version FE [ 18] etc. for the computation of accurate SIFs. These methods
usually need large computer capability and their modelling of cracks is often cumbersome when
the whole range of SIFs as functions of crack shape and size is needed for the fatigue crack growth
analysis. Most of all, it is now still unrealistic to solve the elastic-plastic crack closure problem
for spectrum load by using the general purpose numerical methods. These numerical methods are
inherently inefficient in solving the crack front stress singularity, the large plastic deformation at
the crack front, the elastic-plastic contact on the crack surfaces and the plastic reverse yielding
around the crack front. It is often time consuming, inaccurate and cumbersome to model structural
details using these numerical methods for the cycle-by-cycle based fatigue crack growth analysis.
A special purpose numerical model should be developed to analyse the fatigue crack growth
problems.
When an accuracy less than 10% can be accepted, conservative SIFs can be efficiently solved
based on accurate solutions for similar simple configurations using only the stress distribution
solution for uncracked structure by using the weight function (WF) method for part-through
cracks [19, 20]. The most important part of the application of the WF method is that the method
Fracture crack growth in structural details 347

also provides an efficient way to solve the crack tip plasticity under cyclic fatigue loading based
on the strip yielding model for most of ductile materials.
The strip fatigue crack growth analysis model is based on the Dugdale [21]-Barenblatt [22]
crack tip material strip yielding assumption. In this model, the plastic deformation ahead of the
crack tip is left on the crack surface when the fatigue crack tip moves into the plastic zone (Fig. 1).
By solving the effect of the plastic deformation both ahead of the crack tip and on the crack surface,
the crack tip reverse yielding and crack closure can be determined. In application, the strip model
analysis was intended to supplement Elber's crack closure concept which is a modification of the
Paris law by the acknowledgement of the crack closure phenomenon. This model can be used to
approximately solve fatigue crack growth problems. The model is initially developed to solve crack
tip plastic deformation problems for the plane stress state. In the last decade, it has been extended
to solve the fatigue crack growth problems for plane strain state as well. In the present
investigation, the strip model will be further extended to solve part-through crack problems. The
strip model is based on elastic methods. It is much more simple and matured than other
elastic-plastic methods for solving the elastic-plastic crack related problems, especially when the
model is combined with the WF theory [23, 24].
Although the basic lay-out of the strip yielding model has been established through the early
works of Dill and Saff[25], Fuehring and Seeger [26], Budiansky and Hutchinson [27], and
Newman [28], the model was limited to simple configurations until Wang and Blom [29] developed
a new procedure which combined the latest development in the WF theory. The new procedure
has overcome many limitations of previous procedures so that it can be used now for serious
applications to solve crack problems for general structural problems.
In this paper, combined with the recent development in WF methods for part-through cracks,
the strip model is further extended to the fatigue crack growth of part-through cracks in complex
structural details. In this development, the SIF is determined using only the stress results in the
uncracked structural details based on an approximate 3D WF method. Then, a simplified
procedure is developed based on experimental observations for fatigue striations on the crack
surface to compute the crack surface displacement for the strip tension on the crack surface for
part-through cracks to realise the strip model analysis. Some examples for comparison of the
computed and experimental crack growth results for some realistic structural details are presented
to demonstrate this procedure. Discussions are added to illustrate the advantage and limitation of
the method. This procedure consists of the SIF computation and crack growth model. They will
be separately introduced in the following sections.

THE STRESS INTENSITY FACTOR


For a cracked body subjected to any two systems of crack surface pressures, it has been shown
by Bueckner [23] in 1970 and Rice [24] in 1972 that there is a relation:

H d(AS) = a~2~6w° ~ d S = E a ~ ' ~ w ~2~dS (1)


S

for the SIF K~> for load system (1) and SIF KTM for load system (2). Here, H is a generalised elastic
modulus, which is equal to E for the plane stress state and E/(1 - v 2) for the plane strain state.
E is Young's modulus and v is Poisson's ratio. AS is a virtual crack front growth. 6 w ~ is the virtual
crack opening displacement (COD) increment due to the virtual crack front growth AS for the load
system (1) and 6 w ~ is the virtual COD increment due to the virtual crack front growth AS for
the load system (2). rrI~) and rr~21are the crack surface pressure distributions, respectively, for load
systems (1) and (2). S is the crack surface area.
For a given geometry, eq. (1) gives a relation between K~) and 6 w ~ for load system (1), and
/~2) and the corresponding crack surface pressure a ¢2) for load system (2), or vice versa. Once K~1
and ~wm for load system (l) are known, it is possible to determine K~2~for load system (2) from
only the knowledge of the crack surface pressure a <2). This makes it possible to compute the SIF
for general load according to the superposition principle of linear elasticity based on some reference
solution for simple load cases or even the solutions for some similar geometry.
348 G. S, WANG

Fig. 2. Geometry quantities of a part-elliptical crack.

Although varieties of SIFs are now available (e.g. in the collection of Murakami et al. [30]),
the corresponding COD fields are seldom provided. The development of approximate W F methods
which are mainly based on the pioneer work of Petroski and Achenbach [31], depends on the
success of approximately solving the COD fields [32-36], based on both a reference SIF result and
the corresponding crack surface pressure which can be more easily obtained based on the
superposition principle. All these approximate COD fields can be generally expressed as a series
extension of:
1

w(r,O)= A~ 1-- , a>O,~o=O, (2)

with a limited number of terms. Dimensions in eq. (2) are shown schematically in Fig. 2. Using
this expression, the variation of the COD field due to any virtual crack front growth AS can be
solved as:

6w = -~ OAS AS, (4)

where

&:- ~, ~ + ~ 1- (5)
).=0 ()1 + 2~0

and
f aA~
~ = ~ --(a;. +
l
~)A:.pa 0p&:
q~- - t - ~ @
L (~. + ~)&. P ~ (6)

The x in eqs (4)-(6) is an independent geometrical parameter (degrees of freedom) which


defines the crack shape, size and spatial position.
A derivative on both sides of the W F relation, eq. (1), with respect to an arbitrary crack front
increment AS gives a simpler relation of:

s --H- d ( A S ) = a 0~ dS = a' dS. (7)

Here K r is a SIF corresponding to the COD field wr or the crack surface pressure o"r for a
reference load case. K is the SIF for the crack surface pressure tr or the COD field w.
Write the reference SIF as:
K r = ~K0, (8)
Fracture crack growth in structural details 349

where
Kr
Y c - /Co (9)

is a geometry function which accounts for the boundary effect on the SIF. K0 is the exact SIF
solution for an embedded crack in an infinite body under a remote uniform tension perpendicular
to the crack plane, which is analytically expressed as:

Ko - Q ~ c o s 2 0 + sin-0 , (10)

where Q is an elliptical integration of the second kind.


Assuming a series expression [19, 20, 37] for the SIF to be computed as:
K = Zc~,co,(q~)K0, (11)
where ~ is a group of coefficients which is a function of crack size a and c, and ~ol is a group of
assumed element functions used to approximate the variation of SIF along the crack front (function
of parameter angle ~b, see Fig. 2).
For a given crack size a and c, the following linear equation with respect to coefficients ~, can
be derived according to eqs (7) and (11) as:

~=, i:~ H .= = .=~ ON 0ASi dS. (12)

In the above equation:

Y~ ON OaSi ~=o ;.=o

(13)
-- ,D,,<,[, - ( )7
where

c!= Z=, ~;" 0ASj


0N

(14)
"~ OK
c~ = Z ~ OAS,'
~-=1
The linear equation group of eq, (12) can be explicitly expressed as:

Eo~iB~f) = DJr), (15)

where

#!? = ~E fa ~Y~o, ~ a d(ASj)


S~ (16)
oJr' ~-JTv "-~-~[ E 0(£)r ]dS.

In principle, the SIF for arbitrary crack surface pressure a can be acceptably determined with

EFM 53/~-D
350 G.S. WANG

the coefficients ~i solved according to the linear equation of eq. (15) for a given reference boundary
effect function ~ and the corresponding COD solution ~r, if the elementary function group o9~is
correctly assumed. The maximum number of independent terms in the approximate SIF expression
(terms of ~i and o~,) in eq. (11) is determined by the maximum number of independent virtual crack
front growth AS.,.
Based on the superposition principle of linear elasticity, many of the remote load cases can
be substituted by using a system of crack surface pressure. The above WF procedure can then be
used to compute the SIFs. References [20, 34, 35, 37] give detailed solutions for application of this
method.

THE FATIGUE CRACK G R O W T H


For the fatigue crack growth analysis, the modified strip yielding model can be approximately
used even for part-through cracks. The strip closure model is started from the Dugdale-Barenblatt
strip yield assumption that the cancellation of the physical impossible stress singularity (infinite
of stress magnitude) at the crack tip is caused by the plastic yield of the material at the crack tip
following an assumed strip manner in the crack tip plastic zone [see the shaded area ahead of the
crack tip shown in Fig. l(b)]. From this assumption, not only the solution for the plastic zone size
[ro in Fig. l(b)] but also the amount of elastic deformation and plastic deformation [the shaded
area ahead of the crack tip in Fig. l(a, b)] can be quantitatively solved.
The existence of plastically stretched materials in the plastic zone will lead to a system of
residual stresses in the plastic zone at the zero load state [Fig. 1(d)]. The plastic stretch in the plastic
zone acts like a wedge to prevent the crack surface from closing [Fig. 1(c, d)]. The sharp edge of
this plastic wedge near the physical crack tip means a high reverse stress concentration in the
unloading process. This stress concentration will probably exceed the reverse yield stress of material
and the reverse plastic deformation will happen at the physical crack tip [Fig. l(c, d)].
This is the knowledge which can be retrieved from the original Dugdale-Barenblatt concept.
The main approximation in this concept is the single axial strip yielding assumption made for the
material in the plastic zone. The effect of stresses on the crack tip yielding for other load directions
is neglected. This concept is traditionally restricted to the plane stress condition. Many experiments
in plane stress conditions are supportive for this approximation. In the plane stress condition, the
constrained through-thickness plastic flow (necking in the thickness direction) can be more easily
imagined to fill the gap and form a plastic wedge. Arguments arise mainly for the application of
the strip model to the plane strain condition because "extra" plastic stretches needed to fill the
gap between the Dugdale crack surfaces in the plastic zone are not straightforward to be
demonstrated.
However, even for a perfect plane strain condition, enough plastic stretches, as demonstrated
by the 3D FE fatigue crack growth computation [38], are still possible to be formed by the in-plane
plastic deformation because the amount of plastic stretches needed to fill the gap is small due to
the three-axial stress state at the crack tip and the incomplete contact due to the necking induced
crack surface striation caused by the cyclic load. Similar to Irwin's plane strain plastic model, a
constraint factor, which is used to account for the effect of stresses in the tangential direction of
the crack front, can be used to approximate the yield stress in the plastic zone according to the
Von Mises yielding criterion (J2 flow theory). The Dugdale model, modified with a constraint factor
which accounts for the 3D effect according to the general yield criterion, is used for the plane strain
condition to approximate the major feature of the crack tip plasticity.
According to the Dugdale-Barenblatt strip yield assumption, the plastic zone size rp (Fig. 1)
can be solved by a condition of:

aLK~(p + rp) -- troK~,(p, p + rp) = 0, (17)

which removes the stress singularity at the edge of plastic zone. Here, /~L is the K factor due to
a unit remote load and K~ (p, p + rp) is the K factor due to a unit strip tension on the strip p
p + rp at the crack front. The strip tension at the crack tip represents the effect of plastic yielding.
Fracture crack growth in structural details 351

After the crack front plastic zone size r o has been determined from eq. (17), the plastic
deformation ahead of the crack tip, 6p(r), can be approximately computed for the first load cycle by:
6p(r) = ~rcw?_(r,p + rp) -- aoW",(r,p, p + ro), (18)
where w~(r, p + rp) is the crack surface displacement due to a unit remote load and wg(r, p, p + ro)
is the crack surface displacement due to a unit uniform tension acting on the strip of p ~ p + rp.
or0 is the material yield stress at the crack tip.
The solution of 6o(r) represents the permanent plastic deformation ahead of the crack tip due
to the material yielding at a yield stress of tr0. In the strip plastic solution, not only the SIF is
required, but also the corresponding crack surface displacement solution is needed.
The basic W F relation ofeq. (7) for part-through crack problems can be simplified using polar
coordinates as shown in Fig. 2.

ffI~P6P] dO= i~Ifftr~2)6w°'rdr] dO. (19)

Based on fractographic observations for most of experimental fatigue crack surfaces that the
naturally developed fatigue cracks usually have approximately constant aspect ratio, the crack
surface stress and residual stress both ahead of the crack front and on the crack surface can be
approximated as a single function of r/p (constant aspect ratio). Then, the W F solution of eq. (19)
can be simplified. In this case, the SIF K t2) for arbitrary crack surface pressure a 12~can be explicitly
solved as:

K~2)=
fo"a<2~(r/P)KH~u pr OW~c ;o"
c3p~)dr = a~2)(r/p)m(r,p) dr, a/c=constant, (20)

where
I
H r Ow~ X~p r ~ ( r)'-~ (21)
m(r,p)-- [(,, p Op -- P ~i(p) 1-- P

is a generalised W F expression which, in analogy to the solutions [39] for the plane crack problems,
can be solved with the local SIF solution and the corresponding crack surface pressure. Here, fl~(p)
is a group of coefficients as function of the crack size p and r is the polar coordinate (see the
geometry relation shown in Fig. 2). From this relation, the SIF due to the crack tip strip tension
a acting on r - p can be solved by an integration of:
1

K,(r, p) = tr f~ (1-- p)'-Srd(r)=trK,(r,p\P


),p (22)
cp

where K~,(r, p) is the SIF for a unit tension acting on r - p, which can be analytically solved as

2 + (2i + 1)rip I/2


/~.(r, p) = 2 ,~ fl~(P) (2i + 3)(2i + 1) (1 -- r/p) i+ (23)

The crack surface displacement due to any crack surface pressure cr(r/p) or a load which leads
to a SIF K can be generally solved according to the basic W F relation of eq. (20) as:

w(r,p)= ~1 f: K rPm(r,p)dp= ~1 f " [ ~ tr(r/p)m(r,p)dr ] P-m(rp,)dPr. (24)

From this relation, the crack surface displacement for a unit pressure acting on the strip of
r - p can be solved by a single integration of:

wY,(ro,r, p) = ~
1;" Kg(ro,p) p m(r,p) dp, (25)
352 G.S. WANG

where K~(r, p) has been analytically solved in eq. (23). The crack surface displacement due to a
unit remote load can also be solved according to eq. (24) as

w~(r, p) = ~1 ~" KLuPP_m(r,p)


r dp, (26)
Jr

where/~L is the SIF due to a unit remote load. This integration can be efficiently solved by numerical
methods, e.g. the Gaussian quadrature [40].
Combined with the yield condition of eq. (17) and the crack surface displacement solved for
both the remote load and crack tip plastic yielding stress, the plastic zone size and plastic
deformation wedge ahead of the crack front can be solved by the superposition principle of linear
elasticity.
In a cyclic fatigue crack growth process, the plastic wedge ahead of the crack tip will move
onto the crack surface when the crack grows into the plastic zone. Upon unloading, these residual
plastic wedges on the crack surface may make contact before the minimum load is reached,
preventing further crack tip reverse plastic yielding. By computing the contact of these plastic
wedges, the crack tip closure condition can be determined.
In the strip model, the crack closure at the crack tip is computed by dividing the residual plastic
wedge both ahead of the crack front and on the crack surface into a system of elements [Fig. l(b,
d)]. The stress both ahead of and behind the crack front is approximated using a step function
[Fig. l(c, d)] with a constant stress of:

a,-
ri + I -- Fi
~r/+ I a0(r) dr (27)

on each element. The elements are rigid perfectly-plastic ones with constant stresses. When a large
enough number of elements with adaptive sizes is used according to the stress gradient, the stress
distribution [29] in the plastic wedge can be satisfactorily approximated [41] (Fig. 1).
The fatigue crack growth for the plane strain condition can be approximately analysed using
a modified strip treatment by introducing a constraint factor to account for the 3D constraint for
the crack tip plastic deformation. The 3D constraint is mainly within the plastic zone under
maximum load. It has less effect to the plastic deformation near the crack tip due to the free surface
at the crack tip after initial crack tip deformation (bluntness).
The 3D constraint effect is minimal for the crack surface plastic wedges due to the crack
surface striations (incomplete contact). It can be approximately assumed, as proposed by
Newman [28], for a yielding constraint condition of -fla0. Here, fl is a coefficient used to account
for the Baushinger effect. The yielding condition for the elements can be written as:
- flao <_ at <%Otao r ~ (p, p -[- rp) (28)
for elements in the plastic zone and
- flao <_ at < O r ~ (O, p) (29)
for elements on the crack surface. Here, ~ is Irwin's constraint factor to account for the 3D
constraint along the crack front, iT0 is a flow stress which is an average of the ultimate stress ~b
and yield stress ay.
At any loading level ~L, the wedging of the residual plastic stretches in both the plastic zone
and on the crack surface will induce a system of residual stresses on the elements [Fig. l(d)]. Let
at represent the stress on element i. The deformation on all the elements must meet a displacement
compliance requirement of:

6p(r) -- aL w~(r, p + rv) + ~" a,w~(rt, rt + l, r, p + rp) = 0, (30)


t=l
where 6p(r) is the size of the plastic wedge, w~(r, p -F rp) is the crack surface displacement due to
a unit remote load for a crack size of p + rp and w~(rt, rt +~, r, p + rp) is the crack surface
Fracture crack growth in structural details 353

displacement due to a unit strip crack surface tension acting on the strip of r, - r, +~ for a crack
size of p + rr. Here, rp is the plastic zone size which is determined from eq. (17).
Under constraint conditions ofeqs (28) and (29), the stress on each element can be numerically
solved [42] from the displacement compliance relation ofeq. (30) according to a recurrence iterative
relation:

aLw~(rk, p + rp) -- 6,,(rk) -- )" a,w:(r,, r,+., r~, p + rp)


i=l,i~k
oh = w~(rk, rk+ ~, rk, p + rp) (31)

For the element which has met the yield condition, the plastic stretches 6p should be
recalculated by:

go(r) = O'LW~(r, p -{- rp) -- ~, a,w~'(ri, ri +,, r, p + rp). (32)


i=1

The crack opening stress can then be computed as a remote load level O-opwhich makes the
residual stress at the crack tip element, a,~o, equal to zero:
a,~p(aop) = 0. (33)
In this model, the load history will be recorded by the deformation of the elements so that
most of the plastic deformation related fatigue crack growth feature can be accounted for.
The crack surface displacement due to a unit strip tension on the strip of r0 - r~ on the crack
surface, wU(r0,r~, r, p), can be solved by the superposition of solution w~(ro, r, p) given in eq. (25)
as:

w~(ro, r,, r, p ) = w~,(ro, r, p ) -- w~(r,, r, p ) rl > ro, (34)


where w~(ro, r, p ) is the crack surface displacement for a unit strip tension acting on the strip of
r0 -- r.
The cycle-by-cycle fatigue crack growth is then computed according to Elber's type of crack
growth relation:
dp
d N = f [AKe~(p )], (35)

where
m g e f f ( p ) = (O'ma x - - O ' o p ) g ~ ( p ) . (36)
Here, K~_ is the K factor for a unit applied load.

SOME EXAMPLES AND DISCUSSION


With the above introduced procedure, many part-through crack problems in complex
structural details can be approximately analysed for ductile materials. In this section, several
examples will be provided for the application of the procedure to some crack growth analysis
problems for a Swedish fighter/attacker [43]. The advantage and limitation of the procedure will
also be discussed. The problems involved are the crack growth analysis for a critical detail in the
forward fin attachment and the fatigue crack growth analyses for several details in the main wing
attachment. These details are considered to be vital structural details for the safety of the aircraft.
The material used for both the fin attachment and wing attachment is a Swedish aluminium
AA7009 alloy (7075 type of aluminium alloy). The static strength and fatigue crack growth rate
for constant amplitude cyclic load are shown in Fig. 3. The crack growth rate and effective AKe~
relation is obtained by using the crack growth rate for a high stress ratio (R = 0.7) in an empirical
fitted relation [44, 45] obtained from the experimental crack growth data for several different load
ratios because the crack closure for such a high stress ratio is negligible. The fatigue crack growth
base-line data (the symbols in Fig. 3) are then approximately represented by a piece-wise-linear
354 G.S. WANG

IB-4

AA7009 L-S/L-T
8
1E-5 Aluminium Alloy

1E-6-

1E-7 Gy=440 MPa


Gb=500 MPa
1E-8 E=70600 MPa

1E-9 -4 ~' 0 Experimentalfitting

IE-IO-J ~' " Piece-wise-linear


approximation

1E-11 ~
1 10 100
A K e f f (MPa~/m)
Fig. 3. Fatigue crack growth rate against effectiveK factor range relation and the static strength of the
aluminium alloy AA7009.

relation shown in Fig. 3 as a solid curve. From the material data shown in Fig. 3, the fatigue crack
growth for spectrum load can be analysed by using the present procedure so long as the static stress
at the possible crack location in the structural detail is available.
The first example of the fatigue crack growth computation is for a crack growth at the leg
of the forward fin attachment. At this location, a naturally developed crack has been discovered
during the component fatigue test at about two times the design frame life. The experimental fatigue
crack growth history has then been traced back from the fractographic observation and
reconstructed as a function of life time as the symbolised curve shows in Fig. 3. The schematic
of FE analysis has been made to compute the stress distribution for this component [43]. The FE
model is shown in Fig. 4. From the FE computation, the stress in the perspective crack plane is
obtained.
By using a SIF and the corresponding crack surface pressure for a much simpler configuration,
the configuration of a corner crack located at the edge of a large straight end plate as a reference,
the SIF for the crack at the leg of the forward fin attachment is approximately computed by using

Fig. 4. FE model of the forward fin attachment.


Fracture crack growth in structural details 355

0.02
Forward fin attachment l'

0 015 -" "0" "- Experimental c /


• ' I I
"" "0" "" Experimental a ~ i'

o ...... " Predicted a _,"

o.o-I /
d"~
0"001

v I - I I I I

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5


Design Life
Fig. 5. C o m p a r i s o n o f the predicted a n d experimental fatigue crack g r o w t h for a corner crack at the leg
of the forward fin attachment.

the FE stress at the perspective crack plane. As the WF for the straight end plate is larger than
the WF for the concave end, the computed SIF by using the WF for the straight end plate is
conservative (5% for most cases and 10% for the extreme case [20, 37]).
The computed SIF is used as a basic reference to analyse the fatigue crack growth by using
the strip fatigue crack growth model. The initial crack size used in the crack growth model is
obtained by extrapolating the experimental data to the service time zero (Fig. 5). By using this
initial crack size and the basic material data shown in Fig. 3, the fatigue crack growth at this
location is computed for the same spectrum as that used in the laboratory. The load spectrum is
a Gaussian type of symmetrical load sequence which approximately represents the load experience
on the fin. The predicted fatigue crack growth is shown in Fig. 5 as solid curves. The predicted
crack size agrees with the experimental result very well, but there is a considerable disagreement
for the aspect ratio. The predicted result tends to be a quarter-circular crack while the experimental
result shows a much smaller nearly constant aspect ratio. This difference is due to the simplified
WF used in the crack growth analysis model. In the analysis, the WF has been simplified by using
the WF for a straight end plate which is considerably different from the detail in the forward fin
attachment (Fig. 4). In damage tolerance analysis of the structural details, it is often the crack size,
instead of the crack shape, which is more important. The prediction result shown in Fig. 5 by using
the present procedure is considered satisfactory. The good agreement is due to the good SIF
solution which is directly computed from the stress in the structural detail and the good
approximation by using the WF for the simple configuration.
The second example is for the analysis of fatigue crack growth at a large fuel hole in the main
wing attachment, the lower fuel hole. The FE analysis for the whole main wing attachment has
been performed [43, 46] (see the FE model shown in Fig. 6). The edge of the fuel hole is identified
as one of the critical areas in the wing attachment due to its high stress concentration. A fatigue
experiment has been made for the crack growth at this area by introducing an initial crack of the
size 1.27 mm with an aspect ratio of 1. The frame is then subjected to a type of FALSTAFF wing
root load spectrum which is representative for corresponding fighter missions. Experimental fatigue
crack growth results are shown in Fig. 7 as symbols.
Again, using the reference SIF and corresponding stress distribution for a similar simple
356 G.S. WANG
A

Fig. 6. FE model of the main wing attachment.

configuration, the single corner crack at the edge of a hole in a large plate, the SlFs for the fatigue
crack at the lower fuel hole have been computed based on the FE stress results in the perspective
crack plane. Then the strip model is established according to the procedure introduced in the
previous section. Using the same initial crack size of 1.27 mm with an aspect ratio of 1, the fatigue
crack growth is computed for the same load spectrum as used in the laboratory based on the basic
material data given in Fig. 3. The curves in Fig. 7 show the computed results. The predicted results
agree very well with experimental results for both the crack size and aspect ratio. For this case,
no computation has been made for larger crack sizes as the reference WF is no longer valid.
The use of the present procedure does not always provide such good results for the analysis
of fatigue crack growth under spectrum loading if the basic understanding of the methodology is
not obtained. The dashed curves shown in Fig. 8 give the predicted results using the same procedure
for the corner crack growing at the upper fuel hole (Fig. 6). At this location, as revealed by the
FE stress analysis, a high stress concentration is observed. It is also one of the critical areas for
the safety of the main wing attachment. A 1.27 mm initial crack with an aspect ratio of 1 is
introduced at this location and the fatigue experiment has been performed to investigate the growth

0.025 o
Main wing attachment
Lower fuel hole
0.02 - 0
I"1 Experimental a

,~ O Exper~ental c [ ~ :11"1
0.015 - 9
.~ Predicted ¢ []
r~ DO
....... Predicted a []
0.01- • [] 0

0.0050

0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3


Design L i f e
Fig. 7. Comparison of the predicted and experimentalfatiguecrack growth for a corner crack at the lower
fuel hole in the main wing attachment.
Fracture crack growth in structural details 357

0.02
Main wing attachmentupperfuel hole

e-WF-Exp. / 0
0.015
a-WF-Exp. 0
I

....... c,-WF-FE
"~ 0.01 .......... a-WF-FE //' / J-/
* a-Exp,fjLO / /
• e-Exp.~ .,. ,s
0°005 .,,."
,a,l i . m, o It ~ l t ~
o~ • oalpo~'

0 I I I
0 0.5 1 1.5 2
Design Life
Fig. 8. Comparison of the predicted and experimental fatigue crack growth for a corner crack at the upper
fuel hole in the main wing attachment.

of this crack. The experimental results are shown in Fig. 8 as symbols. The crack became very large
even for the first design life span. Compared to the lower fuel hole, this location is more severe
for the safety of the wing attachment. At this hole, it takes nearly a factor of 1 less time for a crack
to grow to the same size compared to the lower fuel hole.
The predicted results (dashed curves) overestimate the fatigue crack growth in this detail by
about a factor of 1. Such prediction is not appropriate even for the implementation of the half
life time inspection. Such crack growth analysis leads to unsafe structural detail which is not
acceptable in the application.
As the WF used in the analysis is conservative, the strip model is a relatively reliable model
for the crack growth prediction. Suspicion has been concentrated on the accuracy of the FE stress
result. Unlike the lower fuel hole, the upper fuel hole is very close to the side flange of the main
wing attachment which changes dramatically in thickness and adds structural concave corners in
the near hole area (see the FE model in Fig. 6), the stress result is very sensitive to the FE modelling
of the detail geometry near the flange area. Relatively raw meshes have been used in the FE model
within this area to save the FE analysis time.
Fortunately, some experimental stress measurements have been performed for this area. The
experimental measured peak stress at this location is about 14% higher than the FE result.
Calibrating the FE results by a 14% increase in the stress amplitude, the SIF and crack growth
were recomputed. The calibrated crack growth results are shown in Fig. 8 as solid curves. Here,
the predicted crack growth agrees very well with the experimental results. Compared to the original
fatigue crack growth predictions based on the FE stress result, the predicted fatigue crack growth
by using the modified stress is about a factor of 1 less than that predicted directly from the FE
stress result.
The lesson learned in this analysis is that the present procedure requires very high stress
accuracy in order to be able to provide reliable fatigue crack growth prediction results. A 10%
underestimation in the stress result may lead to a 100% overestimation of the fatigue life.
Generally, by considering the conservative nature of the approximate WF solution, less than 10%
of underestimating of the stress result, and preferably less than 5% of underestimating of the stress,
is the first requirement for the reliable fatigue crack growth analysis when using the present
procedure. When the geometry can be accurately modelled by using the advanced FE pre-processor
358 G.S. WANG

and the high accurate FE code (p-version for example) is available, this requirement seems not to
be a difficulty for engineering stress analyses for complex structural details so long as the boundary
conditions can be correctly modelled.
Suppose the stress can be accurately solved for the crack growth details, we still have to face
another problem when using the present procedure. The advantage of the procedure is the use of
the WF function method. The whole procedure is as a matter of fact based on a crack surface
approximate WF concept. This concept gives the convenience in computing both the SIF and the
crack surface displacement for the arbitrarily applied load based on the superposition principle of
linear elasticity. According to the superposition principle, both the SIF and COD for arbitrary
applied load can be solved for a crack by using the stress distribution along the perspective crack
plane in a crack-free structure via a system of integrations. The premise of the principle is that
the load and displacement boundary conditions of the investigated object should be exactly the
same before and after the crack is introduced. Any violation to the premise will lead to incorrect
results.
Here, an example is provided for a detail in the main wing attachment, the upper wing bolt
hole. In this detail, a bolt is inserted in the hole with bushing in the main wing attachment to
connect the wing and fuselage of the aircraft (see the illustration shown in the insert of Fig. 9).
An initial corner crack has been introduced at the edge of the upper wing bolt hole as the
FE stress analysis showed that this location is also one of the high stress concentrations in the
attachment frame. A spectrum load sequence is applied to drive this crack. The experimental fatigue
crack growth is given in Fig. 10 as symbols. Only the crack growth data on the surface are recorded
because of the difficulty in the fatigue test to access the bore area in the bolt hole.
The fatigue crack growth prediction has been made dogmatically according to the general
procedure; the SIF is computed from the FE stress results in the perspective crack plane based on
the WF for a similar crack at the edge of a hole in a large plate, the WF for the strip model is
generated and the fatigue crack growth is computed. The predicted results are shown in Fig. 10
as dashed curves. In this computation, the predicted fatigue crack growth is about a factor between
3 and 4 faster than the experimental results. The prediction is unacceptably overconservative. It
may lead to overweighed structural details or unnecessarily short inspection intervals.
Here, we get a good example that the superposition principle of linear elasticity should not

2.5-

. a/c l
I c
t.5.

oo.o. °
0.5- [] WF results

.... 0---- Pin load S W

0 I I I I I
0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1

Fig. 9. Schematicof a cornercrack at a bolt holewithbushingand pin load, and comparisonof the stress
intensity factors computed by the FE pin/hole model and the weightfunctionmethod.
Fracture crack growth in structural details 359

0.02
0
Main wing attachment
Upper wing bolt hole
0.015

.2
0.01
/.."
~lmlleam c-WF-FE

0 a-WF-FE
0.005
c-SIF-Pin

0 c-Exp.

I I I I !
0 l 2 3 4 5
Design Life
Fig. 10. Comparison of the predicted and experimental fatigue crack growth for the upper wing bolt hole.

be abused. In the application of the superposition principle for this bolt hole, we in fact assumed,
no matter of actually being aware of it or not, that the load distribution transfer between the
bushing and the hole is exactly the same before and after the crack is introduced, This, however,
does not happen in reality. From the extensive investigations [47-53] of lug problems, it has been
shown that the load transfer between the bushing and hole changes significantly when a crack is
introduced. The bushing will exert increasingly higher pressure on the mouth of the crack with
increase of the crack size. Thus, the SIF will be significantly reduced.
Taking an example SIF solution from the ESACRACK [54] for the pin loaded hole for a crack
with an aspect ratio of 1 and compare it to the WF computed SIF (Fig. 9), we can find that the
WF computed SIFs are more than 20% larger than the FE computed SIFs.
Using the SIF solution from ESACRACK with the modification based on the difference in
the stress concentration, the fatigue crack growth is recomputed using the strip model. The
recomputed results are shown in Fig. 10 as a solid curve. The modified computation of the fatigue
crack growth agrees very well with the experimental results for a wide range of crack sizes.
Here, we are dealing with a load shedding problem (the applied load changes with the change
of the crack size). It is closely related to the multiple load path problem, or even the multiple site
crack or multiple element damage problem. If such load shedding effect can be accounted for, as
shown by the example, the crack growth analyses can still be satisfactorily performed using the
WF based strip model.

CONCLUSIONS
According to the plastically induced fatigue crack closure mechanism, this paper showed that
it is possible to rationally analyse the part-through fatigue crack growth at complex structural
details under spectrum loading using only the stress results in the uncracked structural details along
the perspective crack planes. The proposed procedure is based on an approximate 3D WF function
method so that the SIFs for complex structural details can be computed with good and somewhat
conservative results from the WFs for much simpler basic configurations. The crack closure analysis
can be performed based on a strip model which is based on Green functions derived from the same
WF relation.
360 G.S. WANG

M i n i m u m m a t e r i a l d a t a are r e q u i r e d in this p r o c e d u r e . T h i s crack g r o w t h a n a l y s i s m o d e l


r e q u i r e s o n l y the static s t r e n g t h d a t a a n d fatigue c r a c k g r o w t h rate d a t a for c o n s t a n t a m p l i t u d e
l o a d as n e c e s s a r y m a t e r i a l d a t a to p r e d i c t the fatigue c r a c k g r o w t h in g e n e r a l s t r u c t u r a l details for
s p e c t r u m l o a d i n g . T h i s p r o c e d u r e p r o v i d e s a n effective a n d efficient w a y to a n a l y s e the fatigue c r a c k
g r o w t h in c o m p l e x s t r u c t u r a l details o n c e the stress a n a l y s i s is finished.
T o be reliably u s e d in the a n a l y s i s o f the fatigue c r a c k g r o w t h , this m e t h o d requires r a t h e r
a c c u r a t e stress results. T h e stress result a l o n g the p e r s p e c t i v e crack p l a n e m u s t have less t h a n 10%
o f e r r o r a n d p r e f e r a b l y less t h a n 5 % o f error. T h i s m e t h o d s h o u l d be very c a u t i o u s l y used for the
case w h e r e l o a d s h e d d i n g m a y h a p p e n . I n such cases, the s u p e r p o s i t i o n p r i n c i p l e o f l i n e a r elasticity
c a n n o l o n g e r be used a n d o v e r c o n s e r v a t i v e c r a c k g r o w t h will be predicted.

Acknowledgements--The author is grateful to Bjorn Palmberg for providing the material data, and all the stress and
experimental fatigue crack growth results for the concerning aircraft frame details, and Klas Levin for the help in using
computer facilities. Financial support from both FMV, the Swedish Defence Material Administration, and NUTEK, the
Swedish National Board for Industrial and Technical Development, is also gratefully acknowledged.

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(Received 7 November 1994)