Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 15

International Journal of Fracture 145-159 1983 Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague.

Printed in The Netherlands

J-integral studies of crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College of Science & Technology, London SW7 2BX, UK
(Received February 15, 1982)

The J-integral is applied to characterise the fracture initiation of a tough high density polyethylene for which the concepts of linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) are inapplicable for reasonably sized specimens due to extensive plasticity. The multiple specimen resistance curve technique recommended by the ASTM is the basic method employed. A formulation based on the finite difference in crack area between two otherwise identical specimens is used to determine Jtc for comparison with the result obtained from the basic method. A comparison is also made with the results obtained from the Bilby, Cottrell & Swinden (BCS) model of yielding ahead of a crack. Tests are performed in the temperature range from + 23C to - 80C.

1. Introduction

In a previous paper [1], the concepts of linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) were applied successfully to measure the plane strain fracture toughness of three grades of high density polyethylene of varying toughness. However, for the toughnest grade, valid measurements were restricted to low temperatures (below - 100C). At higher temperatures, extensive plasticity occurred at the crack tip, invalidating the use of LEFM. It was suggested that, under such conditions, other methods which take into account the plasticity at the crack tip, such as the J-integral, may have to be used. The J-integral was proposed by Rice [2] as a two-dimensional energy line integral that can be used as an analytical tool to characterise the crack tip stress and strain fields under both elastic and plastic stress-strain conditions. For elastic material, linear or non-linear, it is path independent, it characterises the crack tip stress and strain fields, and it is a measure of the elastic energy release rate. For elastic-plastic conditions, when analysed with the deformation theory of plasticity, it is path independent and it also characterises the stress-strain field at the crack tip. However, it loses its meaning as an energy release rate but can be considered as an energy input parameter. Because the deformation theory does not allow for any unloading, the strict application of J is limited to monotonic loading with no unloading and non-propagating cracks. Hence, it may be used as an elastic-plastic fracture criterion for crack initiation, J = Jic, first demonstrated by Begley and Landes [3,4] for steel and supported by extensive work since then. For viscoelastic materials, such as polymers, the time dependence introduces an additional complication. However, if the time dependence is treated as an independent variable and the analysis is done at a constant strain rate, such materials under elastic-plastic conditions may also be analysed by the J-integral, but subject similarly to the restrictions mentioned above. 145


M.K.V. Chan and J.G. Williams

Hence, in the present study, tests will be performed under monotonically increasing loads at a constaint strain rate to determine J at crack initiation. Some previous work has supported the use of Jl, as a fracture criterion for crack initiation [5- 8]. The J-integral can be determined from its energy rate interpretation [2]:
j . . . .

1 dU B da


where U = potential energy of the loaded body, B = thickness, and a = crack length. Equation (1) can be used to determine J experimentally. Although it represents an exact method, the experimental procedure is rather tedious. Rice et al. [9] introduced an approximate expression for calculating J in deeply notched, bend-type specimens: J 2U (2)

where U is measured from the area under the load versus lead point deflection curve and W = specimen width. Equation (2) is the basis for the multiple specimen resistance (R) curve method for determining Jlc first developed by Landes and Begley [10] and is now the ASTM recommended procedure [11]. This will be the basic method adopted in the present study. It will be briefly outlined in the next section. Early and Burns [12] showed that J could be evaluated from the area between the load-loadpoint deflection curves of two specimens with a finite difference in crack area. Their formulation is basically an extension of (1), but based on finite difference in crack area rather than on an incremental difference. Their approach will be used to determine Jtc at room temperature and to compare with that obtained with (2). In the previous paper [1], it was shown that the BCS [13] model of yielding ahead of a crack, together with a constant crack opening displacement (COD) criterion, provided a reasonable fit to post-yield test data. It will be used here to calculate K1, values for comparison with those obtained from the J-integral.

2. The multiple specimen R-curve J~c test method

The procedure is shown schematically in Fig. 1. Briefly, it consists of loading several identical specimens to different values of load point deflection and then unloading. After unloading, the specimens are broken open so that the amount of crack extension, Aa, can be measured. For high density polyethylene, it is enough to break open the specimens by impact at room temperature. The change of fracture mode marks the crack advance sufficiently well. The value of J at the point of unloading is determined from (2) for each specimen and plotted as a function of Aa. This gives a crack growth resistance curve from which J/c is determined at the intersection of the blunting line and the straight line fitted to the actual crack extension points. The blunting line accounts for the formation of a crack opening stretch zone prior to actual material separation. This is illustrated in Fig. 2. The stretch zone is approximately given by Aa = 8/2, assuming a blunted crack with a semi-circular profile. Hence, the blunting line is given by: J = a~,8 -- 2%Aa where o~ = uniaxial yield stress and 6 = crack opening displacement. (3)

Crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene


f 13 --I






Blunting line j= 2U B(W-a)

0 d






Figure 1. Procedure for Jtc measurement: (a) load identical specimens to various deflections; (b) measure crack extension; (c) calculate J for each specimen; (d) plot J versus Aa and find Jtc.

unloaded sharp crack

- - a

loaded crack prior to crack initiation showing a crack tip blunting

Figure 2. Schematic of blunted crack tip profile.

3. Experimental The material used was a high density polyethylene (Rigidex 002-40) supplied by BP Chemicals Limited in the form of 20 m m thick compression moulded sheets. The variation of yield stress with temperature was established in previous work [1] and is shown in Fig.



M.K.V. Chan and J.G. Williams

C~ 100
u) L,o LU rl,." FLf) Fm J LU










-20 C


F i g u r e 3. Yield stress versus t e m p e r a t u r e .

Test specimens were three-point bend bars of dimensions of B = 20 mm, W = 40 mm and length, L = 200 mm, and single-edge notched to an initial crack length, a, of 20 mm ( a / W = 0.5). The initial crack was prepared as follows. A sawcut was made with a band saw to a depth of 15 mm and the final 5 mm was done with a sharp single point fly cutter of radius not more than 25 #m. This procedure saves time and minimizes wear of the fly cutter, while producing a sufficiently sharp crack for fracture testing. A few specimens were also prepared with an initial crack length of 12 mm ( a / W = 0.3). Tests were performed on an Instron testing machine at a crosshead speed of 0.2 c m / m i n . The three-point bend rig has fixed roller supports which can be adjusted to different spans. A span-to-width ratio of 4 was used. Load-loadpoint deflection was measured an monitored on an X-Y recorder. The loadpoint deflection was measured with an LVDT attached to the loading nose. Low temperature tests were performed in an insulated box cooled by liquid nitrogen. The Eurotherm control unit was able to maintain the desired test temperature to an accuracy of _+ IC. Tests were performed between + 23C and - 8 0 C inclusive at 20C intervals. Five specimens ( a / W = 0.5) were tested at each temperature. Specimens were loaded to various deflections corresponding to different amounts of crack extension and then unloaded. After unloading, the specimens were broken open by impact so that the fracture surface could be examined. The subsequent fracture by impact was brittle in nature and could be clearly distinguished from the ductile nature of crack extension. Typical fracture surfaces are shown in Fig. 4. The crack front at unloading after crack extension was generally curved, showing the typical thumbnail fracture. Maximum extension generally occurred about mid-thickness. It appears that the crack first initiates at the mid-thickness where the degree of constraint and stress intensity are greatest, and then extends outwards towards the edges of the specimen. Observation of the fracture surface next to the initial notched crack showed what appeared to be a stretch zone. This was taken to be due to

Crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene


Figure 4. Fracture surfaces at various temperatures.

crack blunting prior to actual material separation. Further discussion of the stretch zone will follow later in the paper. Measurements of the initial crack length, a, and the crack extension, Aa, were made on the fracture surface using a travelling microscope. Aa was taken as the distance from the initial notched crack to the point of maximum extension. Hence, the measured crack extension included the stretch zone. Four specimens ( a / W = 0.3) were also tested at room temperature ( + 2 3 C ) in the same way.

4. Data analysis and results

The value of J for each specimen was calculated using (2). Figure 5 shows the results at various test temperatures plotted on a single graph as J versus Aa. Also shown on the same figure are the blunting lines based on (3) and the least square fitted lines to the crack extension points. Figure 6 shows the same data plotted separately for each test temperature. From Fig. 6, the results at + 2 3 C show that the data points for a / W = 0.5 and 0.3 calculated using (2) superimpose on the same curve. Although (2) was developed for deeply notched, bend-type specimens and has been shown to apply within the bounds of 0.4 ~< a/W<~ 0.6 for a structural steel [14], the results for a / W = 0.3 seemed to be little


M, K. V. Chan and J.G. Williams

4, 23"C


4- . . . . . . .

0"C -20"C
-Z. 0"C



f / -~ " t J

-~ z,0
1 1 "/

. I







Figure 5. J versus crack extension curves at various temperatures.

affected in this case. The crack blunting line and two fitted straight lines, one using all four points of actual crack extension and the other using the three points nearer to crack initiation, are also shown. This results in two values of J~,, 30.13 k J / m 2 (four point fit) and 28.81 k J / m 2 (three point fit). Similarly, two lines can be fitted to the crack extension points for the data at - 2 0 . C , - 4 0 C and - 6 0 C . Only one line is fitted to the data points at 0C and - 8 0 C . The results of Jzc are listed in Table 1. Also listed in the same table are the equivalent values of Kt,, given by the relation:

K,c = ( EJ,, ) ~/2


where E = modulus of elasticity. E is evaluated from measurement of the initial slope of the load-deflection curve and substituting into appropriate elastic compliance expressions [15]. The values of J~c and equivalent KI, are also plotted as a function of temperature in Fig. 7. The value of Jlc at + 2 3 C determined above using the approximate equation (2) is compared with that evaluated with the formulation of Early and Burns which is related to the energy rate interpretation of J, (l), but expressed in finite terms. They showed that, from the load-deflection records of two identical specimens that differ only in crack area by a finite amount AA, J can be determined from the expression:

J = ~A ~Pdx


Crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene







x 0.5


'E _,40


Z~o mm









, ~ e mm




'E 20 ..-,





~ '
/ko mm

'' ~

z~o mm

e,,i N


'E 40







zxo mm



6 '


/ka mm




'6 '

Figure 6. J v e r s u s crack extension for each test temperature.

where ~Pdx is the area enclosed by the load-deflection curves and the curve describing constant J (see Fig. 8). Figure 9 shows the normalised load per unit thickness versus deflection curves for the


M.K.V. Chan and J.G. Williams


o +




A / ~



10 E z








- 60

- 20




Figure 7. Jl~ and K h. versus temperature.

two initial crack lengths at + 23C. The points on the curves where ,11, is to be evaluated are connected by a straight line (constant J line). Clearly, as mentioned in [12], this is an approximation as the curve need not be straight. However, they found that the difference between calculated J ' s was less than 5% even in the worst cases of short and tong crack lengths (a/W--0.34 and 0.56). The selected points where Jr,, is evaluated are determined from a'plot of J versus deflection and obtaining the deflections where J = Jr, (Fig. 10). The enclosed area between the two normalised load-deflection curves and the constant J line is measured with a planimeter and is equal to ~(P/B)dx or (1/B)~Pdx. The difference in crack area, AA, can be calculated from the difference in initial crack lengths, (a I - a 2 ) ., of the two specimens, i.e. AA = B(a t -a2). Substitution into (5) gives a JA

Experimental results for J/c and calculated equivalent K/,.'s Test temperature
(kJ/m 2 )

( M N / m 3/2 )

+ 23 0 -- 20 -- 4 0 -- 60 28.81 " 30.13 h 29.00 b 23.17 ~ 27.30 b 20.51 ~ 23.02 b 17.29 " 19.07 b 4.84 4.95 6.27 6.66 7.23 7.04 7.46 6.93 7,28

-- 80 a Three point fit. b Four point fit.

15.09 h


Crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene


J = constant


F i g u r e 8. Schematic load-deflection curves for two identical s p e c i m e n s that differ in crack area b y AA.



10 o l W = 0.3

a l W = 0-5


I 5 Deflectlon

I 10 X mm

I 15

F i g u r e 9. N o r m a l i s e d load versus deflection curves at + 23C.


M.K. V. Chan and J.G. Williams

50 /



30 E







5 Deflection

I0 X mm


Figure 10. J versus deflection at + 230( '.

value of 27.99 k J / m 2, which compares well with the average value of 29.47 k J / m 2 obtained previously, a difference of 5%. Finally, the J-integral results over the various test temperatures are compared with the K/c values obtained from the BCS model of yielding ahead of a crack. The parameter of interest in the model is the crack opening displacement, 8, which attains a critical value, 6~., at fracture and can be related to Kic [16]. A semi-empirical solution to the BCS model, written in terms of K~c, for test specimens of finite width subject to arbitrary loading conditions, is given by [17,18]: 1/2
( 6 )

where Y = geometric factor, o / = gross stress at failure, and op, = gross stress at plastic collapse.

Crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene



0 0



t~ 0

.g "6
t~ e.

oc5 II II


M.K.V. Chart and J. (7. Williams

For a single-edge notched three-point bend specimen, opo is given by [19]: f2.184 O, ( 1 - W ) 2 = ~ ' 2 op, l t.891 o v (1 W ) plane strain (7) plane stress.

The failure stress, of, is obtained from the load that corresponds to J~, which can be determined from a plot of J versus load. The KI, results to obtained are listed in Table 2, together with the average value of Kz, from the J-integral results, the percent discrepancy between them and the ratio of the failure stress to the plastic collapse stress (o/y%,,): discrepancy =

(K,c)Bcs- (K,,.)J ( K1, ) J 100%.

(8 )

It can be seen that the plane stress formulation of the BCS model agrees better with the J-integral results. However, only the predictions at - 8 0 C and - 6 0 C are within ___10%. Above - 6 0 C , the predictions of the BCS model according to (6) deviate considerably from the J-integral results. Chell [20] has stated that the BCS model compares well with the J-integral for loads up to 0.8 of the plastic collapse load. This is substantiated by the present results for the plane stress case.
5. Discussion of results

Although the multiple specimen R curve technique requires from four to six specimens to measure a single value of Jtc, it is found to be the simplest and most reliable method in the present studies on a tough high density polyethylene. One of the major difficulties is the determination of the measurement point for Jl,., i.e. strictly at the point of fracture initiation. Since the material is opaque and crack initiation occurs first at the mid-thickness, it is not possible to observe initiation visually with the aid of a travelling microscope and mark the load-deflection record accordingly. The single specimen elastic compliance technique is considered unsuitable in the present case since the fracture toughness of most polymers, being time-dependent, varies with the strain rate. Repeated unloading and reloading, although small, will alter the strain rate and hence the measured fracture toughness. Other reliable methods for monitoring crack growth in polymers are unavailable at the moment, although ultrasonic techniques may prove most promising. Hence, the present method enables the extent of crack growth to be measured reliably. The actual fracture process itself is very complex. Upon loading, the sharp crack tip begins to stretch and blunt before material separation actually takes place. The point of first crack advance, at which Jic is properly defined, is difficult to ascertain even by direct observation of the fracture surface subsequent to fracture. Scanning electron micrographs show the appearance of a stretch zone (e.g. Fig. 11). However, the transition from the stretch zone to the material separation region is not clearly defined. Hence, measuring the crack extension only (excluding the stretch zone) and extrapolatin~ to zero crack extension to obtain a Jl~. value is a difficult task. Although the blunting line (3) may not describe the blunting process exactly, it seems to be adequate to describe the stretch zone at initiation There is good agreement between the interpolated value of crack extension at initiation, Aa~ (obtained from the intersection of the blunting line and the crack extension line) and the measured value of the stretch zone estimated from scanning electron micrographs (Table 3). It should be noted that the calculated J values using (2) are not true J values after crack

Crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene


Figure 11. Scanning electron micrograph of stretch zone and fracture surface. Test temperature is - 8 0 C .

initiation and are only used for extrapolation purposes. The exact determination of J for an advancing crack is not resolved at the moment. In the present case, for extrapolation purposes, it is sufficient to fit a straight line to the crack extension points. Clark et al. [21] have noted that the measurement point for determining Jic should be limited to short crack extensions since they deviate at large crack extensions. This effect is borne out by the data at some temperatures and two straight lines are fitted in those cases. In spite of the difficulties mentioned above, the usefulness of the present method is demonstrated when the J1c values at various temperatures are converted into equivalent K~c values and plotted as a function of test temperature, as shown in Fig. 7 where the Klc values at lower temperatures measured using the concepts of L E F M in a previous paper [1] are also included. The portion of the curve derived from the J-integral studies in this
T ABLE 3 Comparison between the stretch zone sizes at initiation determined from the J.A a curve and those measured on the fracture surface Test temperature (C) + 23 0 - 20 -40 - 60 80

Interpolated value, A a C (/zm) 852 595 406 285 200 142

Measured value (/~m) 830 600 400 280 205 145

TABLE 4 Recommended size requirements for Jt, tests Test temperature (C) + 23 0 20 -40 -60 -- 80

M.K.V. Chan and J, G. Williams

25 (Jt,.,/c~.) (mm) 43 30 20 14 10 7

paper completes the plane strain fracture toughness versus temperature curve from the previous work. A final note on specimen size effect may be helpful. The effect of specimen size on -//, has not been investigated in this paper. It should be a useful exercise. The recommended specimen size requirement [11] is: a, B, ( W - a) >~ 25 J,c/Ov. (9)

This requirement is listed in Table 4. It is not satisfied at +23C and 0C. This may explain the dramatic drop in toughness above - 2 0 C (see Fig. 7). Hence, the toughness values at + 23C and 0C are not true plane strain values. Nevertheless, the trend of the curve in Fig. 7 suggests that they may be conservative estimates.
6. Effect of test temperature

From Fig. 7, it can be seen that the value of ,I1,, decreases with decreasing temperature. although the value of K/~. increases first with decreasing temperature and then stays relatively constant between 0C and - 140C with a slight hump at - 4 0 C . This difference is due to the greater increase of the material stiffness with decrease in temperature. The hump at - 4 0 C may be attributed to the B-relaxation process. Evidently, as the temperature is lowered, the materials maintains a higher load carrying capacity due to the greater increase in stiffness. However, its energy absorbing capacity is decreases as fracture becomes more unstable. Figure 5 also shows that decreasing the temperature decreases the resistance to crack propagation as evident by the levelling of the R-curve with decreasing temperature. The fracture mode becomes more unstable with lower temperature until it becomes completely unstable at and below - 120C. The progressive change from a more ductile to a less ductile mode of fracture is also evident from the examination of the fracture surfaces (see, for example, Fig. l l), All the test specimens in the present programme fail by ductile tearing. The fracture surfaces show the characteristic dimple-type profile of a ductile tearing mode. As the test temperature is lowered, the size of the dimples becomes smaller, reflecting the decrease in ductility on the micro-level.
7. Conclusions

The J-integral method is shown to be useful to determine the plane strain fracture toughness of a tough high density polyethylene in the region where conventional LEFM testing methods are unusable. The multiple specimen resistance curve technique is found to be a reliable method for establishing a suitable ,1i,. measurement point. The value of Jr,

Crack initiation of a tough high density polyethylene


determined from Rice's approximate formula J = 2 U / B ( W - a ) agrees well with that calculated using Early and Burns' formulation for specimens with a finite difference in crack area which is an extension of the energy rate interpretation, J = ( - 1/B)(dU/da). The plane stress formulation of the BCS model of strip-yielding ahead of a crack, together with a constant COD criterion, shows good agreement with the J-integral results for failure loads less than 0.8 of the plastic collapse load. Below room temperature, in terms of Klc, the material has a greater load carrying capacity due to greater stiffness but, in terms of Jt, it has a lower energy absorbing capacity as the fracture mode becomes less ductile and more unstable.

The authors wish to thank BP Chemicals Limited for the provision of materials and generous financial support of this project.

[1] [2] [3] [41 [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] M.K.V. Chan and J.G. Williams, Polymer Engineering Science 21 (1981) 1019-1026. J.R. Rice, Journal of Applied Mechanics 35 (1968) 379-386. J.A. Begley and J.D. Landes, ASTM STP514 (1972) 1-20. J.D. Landes and J.A. Begley, ASTM STP514 (1972) 24-39. R.J. Ferguson, G.P. Marshall and J.G. Williams, Polymer 14 (1973) 451. L.J. Broutman and N.S. Sridharan, Proceedings of International Conference on Toughening of Plastics, London (1978). J.M. Hodgldnson and J.G. Williams, Journal of Materials Science 16 (1981) 50-56. F.X. De Charentenay and J.B. Rieunier, in Advances in Fracture Research, ed. D. Francois et al., 5, Pergamon Press, Oxford and New York (1980) 2599. J.R. Rice, P.C. Paris, and J.G, Merkle, ASTM STP536 (1973) 231-245. J.D. Landes and J.A. Begley, ASTM STP560 (1974) 170-186. ASTM Committee E24, Task Group E24.01.09, "Recommended Procedure for Jic Determination", Task Group Meeting in Norfolk, Virginia, USA (March 1977). P.W. Early and S.J. Burns, International Journal of Fracture 16 (1980) 397-410. B.A. Bilby, A.H. Cottrell and K.H. Swinden, Proceedings of the Royal Society, London A272 (1963) 304-314. P.M.S.T. De Castro, J. Spurrier, and P. Hancock, International Journal of Fracture 17 (1981) 83-95. G. Succop, R.T. Bubsey, M.H. Jones and W.F. Brown, Jr., ASTM STP632 (1977) 153-178. J.R. Rice, in Fracture: An Advanced Treatise, ed. H. Liebowitz, II, Academic Press, New York (1968) 191-311. R.P. Harrison and I. Milne, in Fracture Mechanics in Engineering Practice, ed. P. Stanley, Applied Science Publishers, London (1976) 69. G.G. Chell, ASTM STP668 (1979) 581-605. A.P. Green and B.B. Hundy, Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids 4 (1956) 128. G.G. Chell, International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 5 (1977) 123-147. G.A. Clarke, W.R. Andrews, P.C. Paris and D.W. Schmidt, ASTM STP590 (1976) 27-42.

On applique l'intrgrale J h la caractrrisation de l'amorsage d'une rupture dans un polyrthilrne tenace ~t haute densit~ pour lequel les concepts de la throrie linraire 61astique de la mrcanique de rupture sont inapplicables dans le cas d'rprouvette de dimension raisonnable, en raison d'une plasticit6 6tendue. La mrthode de base utilisre est la technique de la courbe de r6sistance d'une 6prouvette multiple, telle que recommandre par I'ASTM. Une formulation basre sur les diffrrences finies dans la zone de fissuration entre deux 6prouvettes identiques par ailleurs, est utilisre/t la drtermination de J~ en vue d'une comparaison avec les rrsultats obtenus/~ partir de la m6thode de base. Une comparaison est 6galement effecture avec les rrsultats obtenus par l'utilisation du modrle de Bilby, Cottrell et Swinden relatif ~ l'rconlement plastique en avant de la fissure. Les essais ont 6t6 effecturs dans une gamme de temprratures comprise entre + 23C et - 8 0 C .