Mechanisms of fatigue crack propagation in metals, ceramics and composites : Role of crack tip shielding

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Journal / PublicationMaterials Science and Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1988
Externally publishedYes


Crack tip shielding phenomena, whereby the "effective crack-driving force" actually experienced at the crack tip is locally reduced, are examined with reference to fatigue crack propagation behavior in metals, composites and ceramics. Sources of shielding are briefly described in terms of mechanisms relying on the production of elastically constrained zones which envelop the crack (zone shielding), on the generation of wedging, bridging or sliding forces between the crack surfaces (contact shielding) and on crack path deflection and meandering. Examples are taken from the fatigue behavior of high strength lithium-containing aluminum alloys, aluminum alloy-aramid fiber-epoxy laminate composites, and zirconia ceramics. It is shown that, whereas crack tip shielding can provide a potent means of enhancing "resistance" to crack growth, such extrinsic toughening mechanisms can result in the apparently anomalous behavior of "small cracks" and to the susceptibility of brittle materials to fatigue failure.