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2001- 01- 4072

A Review on Crack Closure Models

Luiz Carlos H. Ricardo
EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo

* Paulo de Mattos Pimenta ** Dirceu Spinelli

* EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo, ** EESC, University of Sao Paulo

Copyright © 2001 Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc.

ABSTRACT method to study the elastic-plastic stress field around a

crack. The application of linear elastic fracture mechanics,
The proposal of this paper is to make a review of i.e. the stress intensity factor range, ∆K, to the “small or
analytical crack closure models. Christensen discovered short” crack growth have been studied for long time to
the crack closure in 1963 and later defined by Elber in explain the effects of nonlinear crack tip parameters. The
1968 in his PhD work. This subject is a topic related to key for these nonlinear crack tip parameters is crack
short cracks. The first analytical crack closure model was closure. Analytical models were developed to predict
developed by Newman in 1974 based on the Dugdale crack growth and crack closure processes like Dugdale [
model. Since Newman, finite element and difference 4 ], or strip yield use the plasticity induced approach in
analysis have been conducted to obtain a basic the models considering normally plane stress or strain
understanding of crack growth and crack closure effects. In this paper will shown a review of some cracks
processes. Simple and complex models were developed closure models.
based on the plasticity induced crack closure behavior.
Since 1970 until today the most finite elements analysis THE IMPORTANCE OF CRACK CLOSURE
were conducted using two dimensional under both, plane
stress and plane strain conditions. In the literature few Elber measured the plastic deformation in the wake of a
works covering three-dimensional models can be found. growing fatigue crack measuring nonlinear crack opening
Chermahini did the first work discussing it, in 1986. This behavior. The concept of crack closure under nominal
paper also discusses the yielding zone, empirical crack tensile stress cycles was not recognized earlier; but
closure model, modified Dugdale and design concepts today the fatigue crack problem can be explain without
using short crack theory. considering crack closure and others mechanisms for
crack closure have been proposed.
The technical significance of crack closure is related to
The discovery of crack closure mechanisms, such the growth of fatigue cracks under services load histories.
plasticity, roughness, oxide, corrosion, and fretting The ultimate goal of prediction models is to arrive at
product debris, and the use of the effective stress quantitative results on fatigue crack growth in terms of
intensity factor range, has provided and engineering tool to millimeters per year or some other service period. Such
predict small and large crack growth rate behavior under predictions are required for safety and economy reasons,
service loading conditions. These mechanisms have also for example, for aircraft and automotive parts. Sometimes
provided a rationale for developing new, damage tolerant the service load time history ( variable amplitude loading )
materials. is much similar to constant amplitude loading, including
mean load effects. In both cases quantitative knowledge of
The major links between fatigue and fracture mechanics crack opening stress level S op is essential for crack
were done by Christensen [ 1 ] and Elber [ 2 ]. The crack growth predictions, because:
closure concept put crack propagation theories on a firm
foundation and allowed the development of practical life • S op is required to define ∆K eff ( Kmax – K min )
prediction for variable and constant amplitude loading, by
such as experienced by modern day commercial aircraft. • ∆Keff is supposed to be the appropriate field
Numerical analysis using finite elements has played a parameter for correlating crack growth rates under
major role in the stress analysis crack problems. different cyclic loading conditions
Swedlow [ 3 ] was one of the first to use finite element
The correlation of crack growth data starts from the Since the early 1970s, numerous finite element and finite
similitude approach, based on the ∆K eff, which predicts difference analysis have been conducted to simulate
that equal ∆K eff cycles will produce the same crack growth fatigue crack growth and closure. These analyses were
increments. The application of ∆K eff to variable amplitude conducted to obtain a basic understanding of the crack
loading require prediction of the variation of Sop, during growth and closure processes. Parallel to these numerical
variable amplitude load history, which for the more analyses, simple and complexes models of the fatigue
advanced prediction models implies a cycle by cycle crack growth process were developed. Although the vast
prediction. The figure 1 shows the definitions of K values. majority of these analyses and models were based on the
plasticity induced crack closure phenomenon. Will be
discussing here some of these models covering plasticity
induced crack closure Newman [ 6 ].

Finite Element and Difference Analysis

The most analyses in finite element and difference

analysis were conducted using two-dimensional analysis
under plane stress and plane strain. Since 1980 few
works were done covering three-dimensional models. The
first model covering was done by Chermahini [ 7 ] .
Newman and Armen [ 8 –10 ] and Ohji et al. [ 11 ] were
the first to conduct the two dimensional, analysis of the
crack growth process. Their results under plane stress
conditions were in quantitative agreement with
experimental results of Elber [ 2 ], and showed that crack
Figure 1 Definitions of K Values , Schijve [ 5 ] opening stresses were a function of R ratio ( Smin / Smax )
and the stress level ( S max / σ0 ).
The application of ∆K eff is considerably complicated by
two problems ( 1 ) small cracks and ( 2 ) threshold ∆K Blom and Holm [ 12 ] and Fleck and Newman [ 13,14 ]
values. Small cracks can be significant because in many studied crack growth and closure under plane-strain
cases a relatively large part of the fatigue life is spent in conditions and found that cracks did close but the cracks
the small crack length regime. The threshold problem is opening levels were much lower than those under plane
particularly relevant for fatigue under variable amplitude stress conditions. Sehitoglu et al. [ 15,16 ] found later the
spectrum, if the spectrum includes many “ small “ cycles. residual plastic deformations that cause closure came
It then is important to know whether the small cycles do from flanks of the crack. McClung [17-19 ] performed
exceed a threshold ∆K value, and to which extent it will extensive finite element crack closure calculations on
occur. The application of similitude concept in structures small cracks at holes, and various fatigue crack growth
can help so much, but the correlation to satisfy the specimens. Newman [ 20 ] found Smax / σ0 could correlate
results cannot happen and the arguments normally are: the crack opening stresses for different flow stresses ( σ0 )
for the middle crack tension specimen, McClung found
• The similarity can be violated because the crack that K analogy, using Kmax / K0 could correlate the
growth mechanism are no longer similar crack opening stresses for different crack configurations
for small scale yielding conditions.
• The crack can be too small for adopting K as a
unique field parameter Very little research on three dimensional finite element
analyses of crack closure has been conducted as
• ∆Keff and others conditions being nominally mentioned before. Chermahini [ 7 ] was the first to
similar, it is possible that other crack tip aspects investigate the three dimensional nature of crack growth
also affect crack growth, such as crack tip and closure. He found that the crack opening stresses
blunting and strain hardening, Schijve [ 5 ]. were higher near the obtained experimental crack opening
stresses, similar to Chemahini’s calculations, along the
crack front using Sunder’s striation method [ 21 ], with
backface strain-gages and finite element method.

Empirical Crack Closure Models

The Wheeler [ 22 ] and Willenborg et al. [ 23 ] were the

NUMERICAL ANALYSIS OF CRACK CLOSURE first models proposed to explain crack growth retardation
after overloads. These models assume that retardation
exists as long as the current crack-tip plastic zone is the effective stress-intensity factor range can be
enclosed within the overload plastic zone. The physical calculated by :
basis for these models, however, is weak because they
do not account for crack growth acceleration due under ∆ K eff = ∆ Seff π a F (2
loads or immediately following an overload. Chang [ 24 ]
and Hudson [ 25 ] clearly demonstrated that retardation )
and acceleration are both necessary to have a reliable
model. Later models by Gallagher confirmed it [ 26 ]. Where:

Chang [ 24 ] and Johnson [ 27 ] included functions to a - half length of the crack,

account for the retardation and acceleration. A new
generation of models was introduced by Bell and Wolfman F – boundary correction factor
[ 28 ], Schijve [ 29 ], de Koning [ 30 ] and Baudin &
Robert [ 31 ] were based on the crack closure concept. ∆S eff – effective stress range
The simplest model is the one proposed by Schijve, who
assumed that the crack opening stress remains constant The figure 2 shows the center crack panel that will be
during each flight in a flight -by-flight sequence. The other used to evaluate the crack propagation.
models developed empirical equations to account for
retardation and acceleration, similar to the yield zone
Modified Dugdale Model
There are many modified Dugdale models for example [
32 – 35], After Elber [ 2 ] defined the crack closure, the
research community began to develop analytical or
numerical models to simulate fatigue crack growth and
closure. These models were designed to calculate the
growth and closure behavior instead of assuming such
behavior as in the empirical models. Seeger [ 32 ] and
Newman [ 8 ] were the first to develop two type of models.
Seeger modified the Dugdale model and Newman
developed a ligament or strip yield model. Later a large
group of similar models were also developed using the Figure 2 Center Crack Panel, Newman [ 20 ]
Dugdale framework.
The figure 3 shows the panel idealized to finite element
Budiansky & Hutchinson [ 34 ] studied closure using an
analytical model, while Dill & Saff [ 33 ], Fuhring &
Seeger [ 36 ], and Newman [ 37 ] modified the Dugdale
model. Some models used the analytical functions to
model the plastic zone, while others divided the plastic
zone into a number of elements. The model by Wang &
Blom [ 38 ] is a modification of Newman’s model [ 37 ] but
their model was the first to include weight functions to
analyses other crack configuration.

Crack Propagation by Finite Element Method

The experiments of crack closure from Elber [ 2 ] with

constant amplitude loading that was proposed the
following equation for fatigue crack propagation rates:

= C (∆K eff ) n (1
Figure 3 Finite Element Model of Center Crack Panel
Where C and n are constants of the material and ∆Keff is Newman [ 20 ]
the effective stress intensity factor range.He proposed that
The panel material was assumed to be elastic perfect
plastic with a tensile ( and compressive ) yield stress, σ0,
of 350.0 MN / m2 and a modulus of elasticity of 70000
MN / m 2 these properties are of aluminum alloy. The
released nodes will be done from node A to node F.

Of course, the accuracy of the calculated crack opening

stresses would be affected by the mesh size chosen to
model the crack tip region. A finer element mesh size
would give more accurate results. Newman [ 20 ]
evaluated three kind of mesh as shows in table 1

Table 1 Meshes at Crack Tip

mesh KT ∆ a ( mm ) elements Nodes

Figure 5 Crack Surface Displacements and Stress Along
I 7.2 0.64 398 226 Crack Line, Newman [ 37 ]

The crack surface displacements, which are used to

II 14.4 0.16 533 300 calculate contact (or closure) stresses during unloading,
are influenced by plastic yielding at the crack tip and
III 20.9 0.08 639 358 residual deformations left in the wake of the advancing
crack. Upon reloading, the applied stress level at which
the crack surfaces become fully open is directly related to
contact stresses. This stress is called the “crack opening
W = 460.0 mm and a ≅ 28.0 mm stress”. Because they are no closed form solutions for
elastic plastic cracked bodies, simple approximations
must be used. In next will showed the equations that
governing the stress and deformations of the analytical
crack closure model. Because of symmetry, only one
quarter of the plate will be analyzed as showed in the
figure 6.

Figure 4 Constant Amplitude Crack Extension with

R = 0, Newman [ 20 ]

The figure 4 shows how was stabilized during crack

propagation. The mesh that shows the best agreement
with experimental results was the mesh II, but the mesh III
provides good results too. With the facilities in terms of Figure 6 System Used in the Analytical Closure Model
computer today, normally the time to evaluate this mesh Newman [ 37 ]
is almost nothing, being size of element and the
increment most used today to evaluate a crack closure The plate had a fictitious crack of half-length d and was
analysis or propagation. subjected to a uniform stress S. The rigid-plastic bar
element connected to point J was subjected to a
Newman [ 37 ] introduced a model that is possible compressive stress σJ. this element is in contact when the
evaluate crack closure and crack propagation analysis length of the element ( Lj ) is make V j = L j.
until failure the model received the name FASTRAN. The
formulation of FASTRAN is shows in next.
Where: ( K )s = Smax πd sec
 πd 
The equations that govern the response of the complete  ( 10 )
system were obtained by requiring that compatibility be W 
met between the elastic plate and all of the bar elements and
along the crack surface and plastic zone boundary. The   πc  
displacement at point i is :  2 −1
 sen W    πd 
( K )σ 0 = −ασ 0 1 − sen    πd sec  ( 11 )
n  π π d
 sen   W 
Vi = Sf ( x i ) − ∑ σ j g ( xi , x j ) (3)   W  
j =1
solving the ( 21 ) for d and nothing that ρ = d – c gives :

Where f( xi ) e g( xi , xj ) are influence functions given by :

W   πc   πS  
ρ = c sen−1 sen  sec max  − 1 ( 12 )
f ( xi ) =
2(1 − η 2 )
( d 2 − x i2 ) sec
(4 ) πc   W   2ασ0  
In the plastic zone was arbitrarily divided into ten
graduated bar elements. The aspect ratios ( 2w i / ρ ) :
g( xi , x j ) = G( xi , x j ) + G( − xi , x j ) (5) 0.01; 0.02; 0.04; 0.06; 0.09; 0.12; 0.5; 0.2 e 0.3. The
smallest elements were located near the crack tip
  2
−1 d − b2 x i
  ( x = c ). Doubling the number of elements in the plastic
(b 2 − x i ) cosh  −
 
 d b2 − x i 
zone has less than a 1 percent effect on calculated crack
 
  opening stresses. At the maximum applied stress, the
2(1 − η ) 
2 
−1 d − b1 x i 
2  
 − (b1 − xi )cosh 
G( x i , x j ) = + plastic zone size was calculated from equation ( 12
 
πE   d b1 − x i   ). The length ( Li ) of the bar elements in the plastic zone
  was calculated from equation ( 3 ) as:
  b 
 + d 2 − xi2 sen −1  2  − sen −1  1    b  
  
  d   d   10
Li = Vi = S max f ( xi ) − ∑ ασ 0 g ( xi , x j ) ( 13 )
j =1
 
 sen −1 B − sen − 1 B 
 2 1  sec  πd  (6)
Where f ( xi ) and g ( xi , x j ) are given by
 − 1 b 2  − 1  b1   W 
 sen  d  − sen  d   equations ( 4 ) and ( 5 ), respectively. The bar elements
 
act as rigid wedges. The plastic deformation ( Li ) changes
(πbK ) only when an element yields in tension ( σj ≥ ασ0 )
sen or compression (σj ≤ -σ0 ). The division of the plastic zone
Where B = W for K = 1 or 2. (7)
sen(πd ) into a number of finite elements would allow for the
eventual use of a nonlinear stress-strain curve with
kinematic hardening instead of the rigid perfectly plastic
b1 = x j − w j ; b2 = x j + w j . The compatibility equation assumptions used here.

V j = L j. Is expressed as subject to various constraints: Crack Opening Stresses


j =1
ij g ( x i , x j ) = Sf ( x i ) − Li for i = 1 to n (8)
The applied stress level at which the crack surfaces
are fully open ( no surfaces contact), denoted as S0, was
calculated from the contact stresses at Smin. To have no
surface contact, the stress-intensity factor due to applied
One type of constraint is caused by tensile or
stress increment ( S0 - S min ) is set equal to the stress
compressive yielding of the bar elements and the other is
intensity factor due to the contact stresses. Solving for S0
caused separation ( Vj ≥ Lj ) along the crack surface.
gives :

2σ j
[sen ]
n −1
The plastic zone size ( ρ ) for a crack in a finite S0 = S min − ∑ −1
B2 − sen −1 B1 ( 14 )
width specimen was determined by requiring that the j =11 π
finiteness condition of Dugdale be satisfied. This condition
states that the stress intensity factor at the tip of the
plastic zone is zero and is given by:

(K ) s + ( K )σ 0 = 0 (9)
 πb  element at the crack tip. The length while the crack was
sen K  grown under cyclic loading ( cycle-by-cycle ) over the
W  length ∆c*. The number of load (∆N ) required to grow the
Where BK = for K = 1 or 2 ( 15 )
 π c0  crack an increment ∆c* was calculated from equation ( 16
sen   ) and the cyclic load history. When the sum of the crack
W 
growth increments (∆c ) equaled or exceeded ∆c*, the
analytical closure model was exercised. If ∆N reached
and c 0 is the current crack length minus ∆c*. The 300 cycles, the model was exercised whether or not ∆c*
increment the width of element n, and its significance is was reached.
discussed in the next section. If σj = 0 for j = 11 to n – 1
at the minimum applied stress, then the crack is already This limits the number of cycles that can be applied
open, and S0 cannot be determined from equation ( before the model is exercised. The increment ∆c* was set
14 ). The stress σj at the crack tip changes from equal to summation of ∆c’s. Thus, ∆c* was less than or
compression to tension when the applied stress level equal to that computed from equation ( 19 ), and the
reaches S0. number of cycles ranged from 1 to 300. During the cyclic
growth computations, the cyclic stress history was
Crack Extension and Approximations monitored to find the lowest applied stress before (
S minb ) and after ( Smina ) the higest applied stress level (
The crack growth equation proposed by Elber [ 2 ] S maxh ). The application of the analytical closure model
states that the crack growth rate is a power function of the consisted of :
effective stress intensity factor range only. Later ,
Hardraht et al. [ 9 ] showed that the power law was • Applying minimum stress Sminb at crack length c
inadequate at high growth rates approaching fracture. The • Applying maximum stress Sminh at crack length c
results presented herein show that is also inadequate at • Extending crack and increment ∆c*
low growth rates approaching threshold. To account for • Applying minimum stress Smina at crack length c
these effects, the power law was modified to : + ∆c*
 ∆K 0  • Calculating cyclic load history
1−   • Calculating new ∆c* from equation 19
 ∆K 
dc  eff  • Repeating process when crack extension reaches
= C1∆K effC2 2 ( 16 ) new ∆c* or reaches 300 cycles.
dN K 
1 −  max 
 C5 
 S0 
where : ∆ K 0 = C 3 1 − C 4 
 ( 17 )
 S max 

K max = S max πc F ( 18 )

∆ K eff = (S max − S 0 ) π c F

The constants C1 to C5 are determined by experimental

test under constant amplitude loading. The factor F is the
boundary correction factor on stress intensity. The
analytical closure model provides extending the crack an
incremental value at he moment of maximum applied
stress. The amount of crack extension (∆c* ) was
arbitrarily defined

∆c* = 0.05ρ max ( 19 )

Where ρ max is the plastic zone caused by the maximum Figure 7 Crack Surface Displace under Constant
applied stress occurring during the ∆c* was calculated Amplitude Loading, Newman [ 37 ]
from equation ( 16 ) and the cyclic load history. Typical
values of ∆c* ranged between 0.004 and 1.0 mm,
depending upon the applied stress level and crack length.
The simulated crack extension (∆c* ) creates a new bar
5. Schijve, J.” Fatigue Crack Growth Closure:
Observations and Technical Significance”, ASTM
STP 982, PP. 5-34, USA, 1988

6. Fracture Mechanics Concepts a Historical

Perspective”, Progress in Aerospace Sciences, nº
34, pp. 347-390, USA, 1998

7. Chermahini, R.G. “ Three Dimensional Elastic –

Plastic Finite Element Analysis of Fatigue Crack
Growth and Closure”, PhD Thesis, Old Dominion
University, Norfolk, USA, 1986

8. Newman, J.C. Jr., “ Finite Element Analysis of

Fatigue Crack Propagation Including The Effects of
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0, Newman [ 37 ]
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Dr. Wolf Elber and Dr. Jim C. Newman Jr. from NASA ( 13. Fleck, N.A., “ Finite Element Analysis of Plasticity
National Aeronautics and Space Administration ) at Induced Crack Closure Under Plane Strain
Langley Research Center, Virginia, 23665, USA Conditions” , Eng. Fracture Mechanics, nº 25, pp.
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29. Schijve, J. “ Prediction Methods for Fatigue Crack Luiz Carlos H. Ricardo, EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo
Growth in Aircraft Material”, ASTM STP 700, email: luiz.ricardo@poli.usp.br
pp. 3 -34, USA, 1980
Paulo de Mattos Pimenta, EPUSP, University of Sao Paulo
email : ppmenta@usp.br
30. de Koning, A.U., “ A simple Crack Closure Model for
Predictions of Fatigue Crack Growth Rates Under Dirceu Spinelli , EESC, University of Sao Paulo
Variable Amplitude Loading”, ASTM STP 743, email : dspinell@sc.usp.br
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