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Failure in Engineering Materials

The failure of engineering materials is

almost always an undesirable!

-putting human lives in jeopardy,

-causing economic losses,
-interfering with the availability of Stress Concentration at the notch
products and services.

The photograph is of an oil tanker that

fractured in a brittle manner as a result
of the propagation of a crack completely
around its girth. This crack started as
some type of small notch or sharp flaw.
As the tanker was buffeted about while
at sea, resulting stresses became
amplified at the tip of this notch or flaw
to the degree that a crack formed and
rapidly elongated, which ultimately led
to complete fracture of the tanker.
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How do materials break?
By plastic deformation yielding
e.g., by bending a paper clip

By (instantaneous) impact fracture

e.g., by breaking a pencil or a tooth by impact fracture

By fatigue (delayed fracture)

e.g., by bending that paper clip back and forth several times

By creep (temperature-assisted delayed fracture)

e.g., by sagging of gold archway in ancient churches

By wear (surface damage)

e.g., by simply wearing something out

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We want to learn
1. Ductile and Brittle mode of
2. Ductile to Brittle transition
3. Impact fracture testing methods
4. Fatigue
5. Creep

Any fracture process involves (a) Highly ductile fracture in which the
two stepscrack formation specimen necks down to a point.
(b) Moderately ductile fracture after
and propagationin some
response to an imposed stress. necking.
(c) Brittle fracture without any plastic

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a. Necking
b. Small cavities, or microvoids, form in
the interior of the cross section
c. Microvoids enlarge, come together, and
coalesce to form an elliptical crack,
which has its long axis perpendicular to
the stress direction.
d. The crack continues to grow
e. Fracture ensues by the rapid propagation
of a crack around the outer perimeter of
the neck by shear deformation at an angle
of about 45o with the tensile axisthis is Figure: Stages in the cup-and-cone fracture.
the angle at which the shear stress is a (a) Initial necking. (b) Small cavity
formation. (c) Coalescence of cavities to
form a crack. (d) Crack propagation. (e)
Final shear fracture at a 45 angle relative
to the tensile direction. 4
Sometimes a fracture having this
characteristic surface contour is termed a
cup-and-cone fracture because one
of the mating surfaces is in the form of a
cup and the other like a cone. In this type
of fractured the central interior region of
the surface has an irregular and fibrous
appearance, which is indicative of plastic
cup-and-cone fracture of Aluminum

Fractographic Studies

Much more detailed information regarding

the mechanism of fracture is available from
microscopic examination, normally using
scanning electron microscopy.
Scanning electron fractograph showing
spherical dimples characteristic of ductile
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-No appreciable plastic deformation

-Crack propagation is very fast

-Crack propagates nearly

perpendicular to the direction of
Brittle fracture Brittle fracture in
applied stress
a mild steel.

-Crack often propagates by cleavage

breaking of atomic bonds along
specific crystallographic planes
(cleavage planes). This type of fracture
is said to be transgranular (or
transcrystalline), because the fracture
cracks pass through the grains.

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Fracture surfaces of materials that fail in a brittle manner have
distinctive patterns, such as chevron marks (V shape) in steel, fan marks
(radial) .
The marks are coarse enough to visualize by naked eye.

(a) Photograph showing V-shaped

chevron markings
characteristic of brittle fracture.
Arrows indicate the origin of
cracks. Approximately actual
(b) Photograph of a brittle fracture
surface showing radial fan-
shaped ridges. Arrow indicates
the origin of the crack.
Approximately 2X.

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At room temperature, both crystalline and noncrystalline ceramics

almost always fracture before any plastic deformation can occur in
response to an applied tensile load.

Stress raisers in brittle ceramics may be minute surface or interior

cracks (microcracks), internal pores, and grain corners, which are
virtually impossible to eliminate or control.

For compressive stresses, there is no stress amplification associated

with any existent flaws. For this reason, brittle ceramics display much
higher strengths in compression than in tension (on the order of a
factor of 10), and they are generally utilized when load conditions are

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For brittle ceramic materials, schematic representations of crack origins and
configurations that result from (a) impact (point contact) loading, (b)
bending, (c) torsional loading, and (d) internal pressure.
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Thermoplastic The fracture strengths of
Both ductile and brittle modes are polymeric materials are low
possible, and many of these materials relative to those of metals and
are capable of experiencing a ductile- ceramics.
to-brittle transition.
Brittle fracture occurs with
-Reduction in temperature Thermosets (heavily crosslinked
-an increase in strain rate networks)
-the presence of a sharp notch,
-an increase in specimen thickness, -The mode of fracture is brittle.
-any modification of the polymer -Covalent bonds in the network or
structure that raises the glass crosslinked structure are severed
transition temperature (Tg). during fracture.
-Glassy thermoplastics are brittle
below their glass transition
Ductile fracture occurs with
- Raise
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A craze is different from a

crack, in that it can support a
load across its face.
Furthermore, this process of
craze growth prior to cracking
absorbs fracture energy and
effectively increases the
fracture toughness of the
polymer. 12

Impact Testing Techniques

Two standard tests, the
Charpy and Izod, measure
the impact energy (that
required to fracture a test
piece under an impact
load), which is also called
the notch toughness.

(a) Specimen used for Charpy and Izod impact

tests. (b) A schematic drawing of an impact
testing apparatus. The hammer is released
from fixed height h and strikes the specimen;
the energy expended in fracture is reflected in
the difference between h and the swing
height h. Specimen placements for both
Charpy and Izod tests are also shown.

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Ductile-to-Brittle Transition
It can be defined as the temperature dependency of absorbed impact
energy of material. Impact energy drops suddenly over a narrow
temperatures range.

Structures constructed
from alloys that exhibit this
ductile-to-brittle behavior
should be used only at
temperatures above the
transition temperature to Photograph of fracture surfaces of A36
avoid brittle and steel Charpy V-notch specimens tested at
catastrophic failure. indicated temperatures (in oC).

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Brittle Ductile

Ductile to Brittle transition temperature (DBTT)

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Failure in Materials: part 2
Dynamic failure

Deteriorative failure

Stress corrosion cracking in brass

- It is a form of failure that occurs in structures subjected to dynamic and
fluctuating stresses (e.g., bridges, aircraft, and machine components).

-Failure occurs at a stress level considerably lower than the tensile or yield
strength for a static load.

- Repeated stress or strain cycling for prolonged period- fatigue

-Fatigue failure is catastrophic and insidious- instantaneous and unprepared!

Failure is brittle-like. The process occurs by the initiation and propagation of

cracks, and typically the fracture surface is perpendicular to the direction of an
applied tensile stress.

-Approximately 90% of all metallic failures; polymers and ceramics (except for
glasses) are also susceptible to this type of failure.
a) Reversed stress cycle
b) Repeated stress cycle
c) Random

In reversed, the amplitude is

symmetrical about a mean zero
stress level.
In repeated, maximum and
minimum stresses are asymmetrical
relative to the zero-stress level;
mean stress m, range of stress r,
and stress amplitude a.
Problem: A fatigue test was conducted in which the mean stress was 50
MPa (7250 psi) and the stress amplitude was 225 MPa (32,625 psi).
(a) Compute the maximum and minimum stress levels.
(b) Compute the stress ratio.
(c) Compute the magnitude of the stress range.

Schematic diagram of fatigue-testing apparatus for making rotatingbending tests.

A series of tests is commenced by subjecting a specimen to the stress

cycling at a relatively large maximum stress amplitude ( max), usually
on the order of two-thirds of the static tensile strength; the
number of cycles to failure is counted. This procedure is repeated on
other specimens at progressively decreasing maximum stress
Data are plotted as stress S versus the logarithm of the number N
of cycles to failure for each of the specimens.
Fatigue limit
For some ferrous (iron base) and titanium alloys, the SN curve becomes horizontal at
higher N values; there is a limiting stress level, called the fatigue limit (sometimes
also called the endurance limit), below which fatigue failure will not occur.

For many steels,

fatigue limits range
between 35% and
60% of the tensile
Fatigue strength and Fatigue life
Most nonferrous alloys (e.g., aluminum, copper, magnesium) do not have a fatigue
limit, the S-N curve goes downward!
Fatigue strength
is defined as the
stress level at
which failure
will occur for
some specified
number of cycles

Fatigue life is the

number of cycles
to cause failure at
a specified stress

The fatigue behavior of

polymers is much more
sensitive to loading
frequency than for metals.
Cycling polymers at high
frequencies and/or relatively
large stresses can cause
localized heating;
consequently, failure may be
due to a softening of the
material rather than a result
of typical fatigue processes.

Much lower fatigue strength

than metals.
Some may have fatigue limits.
Mechanisms of fatigue failure

(1) crack initiation, in which a small crack forms at some Fractography

point of high stress concentration;
(2) Crack propagation, during which this crack advances -Beach marks/
incrementally with each stress cycle; and clamshell marks
(3)final failure, which occurs very rapidly once the -Striations
advancing crack has reached a critical size.

Fracture surface of a rotating steel shaft that experienced fatigue failure.

Beachmark ridges are visible in the photograph.
Beachmarks are of macroscopic dimensions and may be observed with the
unaided eye.
On the other hand, fatigue striations are microscopic in size and subject to
observation with the electron microscope (either TEM or SEM).

It should be emphasized that

although both beachmarks and
striations are fatigue fracture
surface features having similar
appearances, they are
nevertheless different in both
origin and size. There may be
thousands of striations within a
single beachmark.

Figure: Transmission electron

fractograph showing fatigue
striations in aluminum. 9000X.

1. Increase mean stress: 2. Improve design

a) Poor b) improved
3. Surface treatment:

Shot pinning
Case hardening
Fatigue strength
imcreased with pinning
The time-dependent plastic
deformation of metals subjected to a
constant load (or stress) and at
temperatures greater than about
0.4Tm (Tm is the melting
temperature) is termed creep.

A typical creep curve (strain versus

time) will normally exhibit three
distinct regions: transient (or
primary), steady-state (or
secondary), and tertiary.

Important design parameters Figure: Typical creep curve of strain versus

available from such a plot include the time at constant load and constant elevated
steady-state creep rate (slope of the
linear region) and rupture lifetime.
Creep Parameters
1. The minimum creep rate /t is the slope of the linear
segment in the secondary region.
2. Rupture lifetime tr is the total time to rupture.

Minimum creep rate ensures long-life applications, such as a nuclear

power plant component that is scheduled to operate for several decades,
and when failure or too much strain is not an option.

For many relatively short-

life creep situations (e.g.,
turbine blades in military
aircraft and rocket motor
nozzles), time to rupture,
or the rupture lifetime tr, is
the dominant design