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doi: 10.1111/j.1460-2695.2012.01721.

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Fatigue crack growth prediction models for metallic materials
Part I: Overview of prediction concepts
T. MACHNI EWI CZ
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics, AGH University of Science and Technology, Al. Mickiewicza 30, 30059 Krak ow, Poland
Received in final form 11 July 2012
ABSTRACT Deterministic models developed to predict fatigue crack growth in metallic materials
are considered with special emphasis on approaches suitable for variable amplitude load
histories. Part I gives a concise review of available models and their assessment based
on reported in the literature comparisons between predicted and observed results. It is
concluded that the so-called strip yield model based on the plasticity induce crack closure
mechanism is a most versatile predictive tool convenient to use in the case of mode I crack
growth under arbitrary variable amplitude loading. Part II of the paper is focused on the
strip yield model and its predictive capabilities. Implementations of this type prediction
approach reported in the literature are reviewed. It is shown that decisions regarding
the constraint factor conception, a choice of the crack driving force parameter, the crack
growth rate description and various numerical details can have a profound effect on the
model results and the prediction quality.
Keywords crack closure; fatigue crack growth; load interaction effect; prediction
models; variable amplitude loading.
NOMENCLATURE a = crack length
a
fict
= fictitious crack length
CA = constant amplitude
CDF = crack driving force
COD = crack opening displacement
da/dN = fatigue crack growth rate
FE = finite element
K = stress intensity factor (SIF)
K
eq
= equivalent stress intensity factor
K
max
= maximum stress intensity factor value
K
min
= minimum stress intensity factor value
K
op
= crack opening stress intensity factor
K
r
= stress intensity factor due to residual stress
K
red
= reducing stress intensity factor in Willenborg model
OL = overload (subscript OL is used for parameters associated with the
overload occurrence)
r
p
= plastic zone size
r
pOL
= plastic zone size generated by overload
R = stress ratio
RMS = root mean square
Correspondence: T. Machniewicz. E-mail: machniew@agh.edu.pl
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2012 Wiley Publishing Ltd. Fatigue Fract Engng Mater Struct 36, 293307 293
294 T. MACHNI EWI CZ
R
OL
= K
OL
max
/K
max
R
SO
= overload ratio needed to crack arrest
R
u
= S
UL
/S
OL
S
max
= maximum stress
S
maxRMS
= maximum root mean square stress
S
min
= minimum stress
S
minRMS
= minimum root mean square stress
S
op
= crack opening stress
SIF = stress intensity factor
SY = strip yield
U = K
eff
/K
UL = underload (subscript UL is used for parameters associated with the
underload occurrence)
VA = variable amplitude
a = crack growth increment
K = K
max
K
min
K
eff
= K
max
K
op
K
th
= threshold K
K
T
= intrinsic K
th
S
RMS
= S
max RMS
S
min RMS

= crack tip radius

y
= yield stress
,
R
= retardation factors
I NT RODUCT I ON
According to the damage tolerance philosophy, currently
adopted by many industrial branches, flaws of various
types are unavoidable in a structure. In that case, de-
termination of the service life of a component subject
to fatigue loading requires crack growth predictions. De-
pending on whether the crack increment in a given load
cycle is uniquely determined from the input data or it is
deemed a random variable, probabilistic and determin-
istic prediction models can be differentiated. The prob-
abilistic approaches, which otherwise start from deter-
ministic models, are amply considered elsewhere.
1,2
This
paper focuses on the deterministic concepts for crack
growth predictions applicable to variable amplitude (VA)
load sequences. As amply documented in the literature,
3,4
load interaction effects, namely crack growth acceleration
or retardation occur in crack growth under VA loading
conditions.
Part I of this paper gives a concise review of available
crack growth prediction models that account for the load
interaction phenomena. These concepts are classified ac-
cording to their physical basis and their predictive capabil-
ities are assessed based on reported comparisons between
predicted and observed results. It is concluded that the
so-called strip yield (SY) model of crack closure is a most
versatile predictive tool convenient to use in the case of
mode I crack growth under arbitrary VA load histories.
Part II of this paper is focused on the SY model. Though
in models of this category the major components remain
essentially the same, specific SY model implementations
differ in many respects, such as the conception of con-
straint factors, crack driving force (CDF) parameters, the
type of crack growth input data, and various numerical de-
tails. All above aspects can essentially affect SY model re-
sults and the corresponding decisions and computational
choices as well as their consequences for the prediction
results are addressed in the paper.
CL AS S I F I CAT I ON OF F AT I GUE CRACK
GROWT H PRE DI CT I ON MODE L S
Deterministic models for fatigue crack growth prediction
can be classified as proposed in Fig. 1. It is seen that with
most concepts crack growth analysis for a given load his-
tory is carried out cycle-by-cycle, which implies summing
up fatigue crack growth increments (a
i
) associated with
consecutive load cycles. The crack length (a
i
) at a certain
cycle number is therefore computed as
a
i
= a
i 1
+a
i
. (1)
The crack growth increment in a load cycle, i.e. the fa-
tigue crack growth rate (da/dN) in that cycle, is computed
utilizing a crack growth equation. The best known one,
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FATI GUE CRACK GROWTH PREDI CTI ON MODELS FOR METALLI C MATERI ALS 295
Fig. 1 Classification of deterministic models for fatigue crack growth predictions.
according to Paris, relates da/dN to the stress intensity
factor (SIF) range defined as K = K
max
K
min
, where
K
max
and K
min
are the maximumand minimumSIF values
in a load cycle. The Paris equation reads
da
dN
= CK
m
, (2)
where m and C are the material and environment depen-
dent parameters, the C-value being, in addition, affected
by the stress ratio (R). Modifications of Eq. (1) have been
proposed in order to account for the effect of R and to
cover crack growth in the near threshold regime. A re-
view of various concepts can be found in the literature.
5,6
Alternative to K fracture mechanics parameters, for ex-
ample the crack opening displacement range (CTOD)
or the Rice integral range (J), are sometimes employed
to represent the CDF.
Elber
7
observed under constant amplitude (CA) pulsat-
ing tension that the fatigue crack was closed above the
minimum load of the cycle. He postulated that the crack
could not grow when the crack surfaces were in contact
and proposed that da/dN be related to the effective range
of SIF rather than to the total range. That effective range
is defined as
K
eff
= K
max
K
op
, (3)
where K
op
is the SIF level at which the crack becomes
fully open during uploading. The K
op
/K
max
-value in a
given cycle depends on the material and the preceding
load history.
A CDF parameter employed in a crack growth equation
and, hence, the computed a
i
depends on the current
crack size in cycle i. For that reason, consecutive a
i
increments are determined for consecutive upward stress
ranges in a load history, which implies a simple range
counting method. Essentially, the rainflow count, widely
applied in fatigue crack initiation analyses, can only be
used in the case of the equivalent SIF (K
eq
) approach (cf.
Fig. 1). As well known, a unique feature of the rainflow
techniques is that the largest load range, i.e. the variation
between the highest and the lowest minimum in a load-
time trace, is always counted. If, however, for a lengthy
load history considerable crack growth occurs between
the lowest minimum and the highest maximum, it may
be physically questionable to couple these two remote
events into one cycle. Applicability of the rainflow count
to fatigue crack growth is addressed by Skorupa
3
in the
context of the so-called incremental crack growth law by
de Koning.
8
E QUI VAL E NT S I F MODE L S
A basic idea behind the K
eq
approach, illustrated in
Fig. 2, is replacing a VA sequence with a CA sequence
defined by an equivalent stress range S
eq
corresponding
to a SIF range of K
eq
such that an average da/dN un-
der the VA sequence is the same as under the equivalent
CA loading. One of the earliest implementations of this
concept is the so-called Root Mean Square (RMS) model
proposed by Barsom
9
and subsequently modified by oth-
ers.
10
The value of K
eq
is assumed to correspond to an
equivalent stress range defined as S
RMS
= S
max RMS

S
min RMS
with
S
max RMS
=

_
1
m
m

i =1
(S
max i
)
2
; S
minRMS
=

_
1
m
m

i =1
(S
mini
)
2
,
(4)
where S
max i
and S
min i
are the consecutive extremes of
the actual VA load history comprising m cycles. Other
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296 T. MACHNI EWI CZ
Fig. 2 Equivalent SIF concept.
Fig. 3 Post-OL plastic zones considered in Wheelers model.
proposals for adopting K
eq
can also be found in the liter-
ature, as reviewed by Skorupa
3
and Sander.
11
L I NE AR ( NON- I NT E RACT I ON) MODE L
The linear model ignores a dependency of the crack
growth increment in a given cycle on the preceding load
history. Hence, this approach is conceptually parallel to
fatigue life estimates employing Miners rule. For some
VA load histories, applying the linear model requires that
da/dN values over a wide range of R-ratios and in the
threshold regime be available. In general, a correlation
between the linear model predictions and experimental
results can only be obtained when overall load interaction
effects are negligible. This may occur when the retarda-
tion and acceleration phenomena cancel out.
PL AS T I C Z ONE MODE L S
Earliest load interaction models were proposed by Wil-
lenborg et al.
12
and Wheeler
13
in order to reproduce the
effect of a single overload (OL) on fatigue crack growth
rates. In both models it is assumed that da/dN becomes
reduced as long as the current plastic zone of size r
p
is
embedded within the OL plastic zone of size r
pOL
gen-
erated by the OL cycle at a crack length of a
OL
, Fig. 3.
Subsequent modifications of the Willenborg and Wheeler
models aimed at accounting for acceleration and reduced
retardation due to underloads (ULs).
Wheeler model
According to Wheelers model,
13
after an OL the fatigue
crack growth rate computed for K corresponding to the
current cycle is multiplied by a retardation factor
R
given
by

R
=

_
r
p
a
OL
+r
pOL
a
_
w
for a +r
p
< a
OL
+r
pOL
1 for a +r
p
a
OL
+r
pOL
,
(5)
where w is a parameter that must be derived empirically
for a given material and class of loading spectra.
Equation (5) implies that after an OL (i.e. for a > a
OL
)

R
adopts values below unity until a crack length at which
the current plastic zone touches the boundary of the OL-
induced plastic zone. Gray and Gallagher
14
redefined the

R
coefficient relating it to K
max
/K

max
, where K

max
is the
hypothetic K
max
value that would make the plastic zone
for the current crack length reach the boundary of the OL
plastic zone:

R
=

_
K
max
K

max
_2w

for K
max
< K

max
1 for K
max
K

max
.
(6)
In addition, the w exponent was expressed by Gray and
Gallagher as:
14
w =
m
2
__
log
K
K
th
__
log R
SO
_
(7)
where m is the exponent in the Paris equation, K
th
de-
notes the threshold SIF range and R
SO
is a value of the
OL ratio R
OL
= K
OL
max
/K
max
needed to arrest the crack.
Another attempt to improve the Wheeler model perfor-
mance was by Huang et al.
15
who addressed the influence
of an UL immediately following an OL in a load history.
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FATI GUE CRACK GROWTH PREDI CTI ON MODELS FOR METALLI C MATERI ALS 297
The resulting modified expression for
R
was in the form:

R
=

_
r
p
a
OL
+r
pOL
a r

_
w
for a +r
p
< a
OL
+r
pOL
r

1 for a +r
p
a
OL
+r
pOL
r

,
(8)
where r

is the distance between the boundary of the OL


plastic zone and of the reversed plastic zone generated
after the UL.
The original model of Wheeler is included in the com-
mercially available AFGROW
16
software package.
Willenborg model
Willenborg et al.
12
assume that due to residual com-
pressive stresses within the OL plastic zone the extreme
K-values of a current load cycle (K
max
and K
min
) are re-
duced by an amount of K
red
, which yields a reduced crack
growth rate due to the corrected, lower R-ratio. In ad-
dition, in the case of K
min
< K
red
only a positive portion
of the K range is assumed to control the crack growth
rate. The K
red
-value corresponds to such an increase in
the current K
max
that would cause the current plastic zone
to touch the OL generated plastic zone boundary. Gal-
lagher
17
proposed a following equation for K
red
K
red
= K
OL
max
_
1
a a
OL
r
pOL
_1
2
K
max
, (9)
where K
OL
max
is the maximumSIF corresponding to the OL
cycle.
Against experimental observations indicating that the
R
SO
-value (cf. Eq. 7) is material and loading parameters
dependent, Eq. (9) implies crack arrest if the OL ratio
R
OL
= K
OL
max
/K
max
2 because in that case K
red
= K
max
immediately after the OL application (a =a
OL
). To avoid
the corresponding unconservative predictions Gallagher
and Hughes
18
proposed that K
red
be multiplied by a factor
defined as
=
1
K
th
K
(R
SO
1)
. (10)
The Willenborg model modified according to Gallagher
and Hughes is often referred to as the generalized Wil-
lenborg model. Another improvement of the Willenborg
model proposed by Brussat
19
and referred to as the modi-
fied generalized Willenborg model aimed at addressing a
reduction in crack growth retardation due to an UL. To
this end, a dependency of the factor (Eq. 10) on the UL
and OL levels was introduced according to the following
relationship:
=

2.523
0
1 +3.5(0.25 R
U
)
0.6
for R
U
< 0.25
1 for R
U
0.25
, (11)
where R
U
= S
UL
/S
OL
and
0
is a material constant de-
fined as the -value for R
U
= 0.
Another attempt to account in the Willenborg model
for acceleration and reduced retardation due to ULs was
by Chang and Engle.
20
The latter version is referred to as
the WalkerChangWillenborg model.
Three different versions of the Willenborg model,
all referred to earlier in this section, namely the gen-
eralized model, the modified generalized model and
the WalkerChangWillenborg model are available in
the NASGRO
19
software. The generalized Willenborg
model is also included in the AFGROW
16
software. An-
other interaction model available in the latter software
package and closely related to the plastic zone mod-
els is a Hsu model, which is an empirically based ap-
proach that borrows and builds on the concepts offered
by the Wheeler and Willenborg models, but also accounts
for Elbers crack closure mechanism. The Hsu model
is unable to predict crack growth under compression
compression cycles.
CRACK CL OS URE MODE L S
Because Elbers discovery of plasticity induced crack clo-
sure an opinion prevails that fatigue crack growth be-
haviour of metals is to a large extent controlled by this
mechanism. Especially the influence of the stress ratio,
stress level and thickness as well as load interaction phe-
nomena occurring under VA loading are attributed to
crack closure. Consequently, a number of crack growth
prediction models utilizing K
eff
(cf. Eq. 3) as the CDF
parameter have been developed. These type approaches
can be classified as semi-empirical models and SY models.
With the semi-empirical prediction concepts, the crack
opening stress (S
op
) corresponding to the K
op
level of SIF
is adjusted in every cycle according to specified rules em-
ploying material and loading dependent parameters. On
the contrary, the SY models involve a determination of
S
op
based on the computed distribution of local plastic
stretches behind the crack tip. Though none of the crack
closure models model imposes any limitations or require-
ments with respect to the load sequence or material, all
have been developed especially for applications to flight-
simulation loading on aircraft alloys.
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298 T. MACHNI EWI CZ
Semi-empirical crack closure models
ONERA model
According to the ONERA model proposed by Baudin
and Robert,
21
K
op
in cycle i depends on equivalent K
levels, K
min,eq
and K
max,eq
, that are load history dependent
and must be adjusted in every cycle. Thus, K
max,eq,i
is a
minimumK
max,i
-value required to induce in the following
cycle a primary
a
plane stress plastic zone, while a change in
K
min,eq
betweentwo successive cycles is related to a change
in the applied loading between the previous (i1) and
current (i) cycle according to the following, empirically
derived relationship:
K
min,eq,i
= K
min,eq,i
K
min,eq,(i 1)
= (K
min,eq,i
K
min,eq,(i 1)
)
_
K
max,i
K
max,eq,i
_
2+t/2
,
(12)
where t is the material thickness in mm.
The resulting crack opening level in cycle i is expressed
as
K
op,i
= K
max,eq,i
(
ONR
f
1
(R
eq,i
) +(1
ONR
) f
2
(R
eq,i
)),
(13)
where R
eq,i
denotes an equivalent stress ratio (R
eq,i
=
K
min,eq,i
K
max,eq,i
), whilst f
1
and f
2
are empirical functions which
must be determined experimentally for a given material.
The
ONR
parameter can adopt values between zero and
unity, to make the K
op
fall between two extreme cases,
namely a CA loading (
ONR
= 0) and a single OL (
ONR
= 1).
PREFFAS model
With the PREFFAS model, first proposed by Aliaga
et al.
22
K
op
in a given cycle is defined as the maximum
value of crack opening levels K
op,i,j
computed for that
cycle considering the previous cycles j (1 j i):
K
op,i
= max(K
op,i, j
)
= max(K
max, j
U(K
max, j
K
min,Low
)).
(14a)
Here, K
min,Low
denotes the lowest K
min
-value for the con-
sidered cycles and the crack closure ratio U is expressed
as
U = A+ B R (14b)
where R = K
min,Low
/K
max,j
, whereas A and B are the ma-
terial and thickness dependent, empirically determined
constants.
a
A primary plastic zone is generated in material that has not been plastically
deformed before.
CORPUS model
The CORPUS model developed by de Koning and co-
workers
23,24
aimed at covering the effect of periodic OLs
on crack growth. Contrary to the ONERAand PREFFAS
models, material memory rules to account for load inter-
action effects adopted in CORPUS stem directly from
considering plastic deformations in the crack wake, which
is convincing from the plasticity induced crack closure
point of view. However, in contrast to the SY model ad-
dressed in the next section, some a priori assumptions
about the shape of the crack plastic wake are adopted. As
illustrated in Fig. 4, the fatigue crack surfaces are covered
with humps, each hump being associated with a plastic
zone generated at a previous maximumstress. Ahump cre-
ated during anupward load range canbe partially flattened
by subsequent downward ranges. Therefore, if an OL ap-
plied after smaller amplitude cycles generates a prominent
hump associated with elevating the crack opening level,
this effect can be partly annihilated by an UL, which re-
sults in a reduction in S
op
.
The S
op
-value is identified as the applied stress level at
which a last contact between the humps is lost (Fig. 4):
S
op
= max(S
op,n
), (15)
where S
op,n
corresponds to a hump created in cycle n, at a
crack length of a
n
, and associated with a plastic zone size
of r
p,n
. S
op,n
depends on the maximum stress in cycle n
(S
max,n
) and a minimum stress occurring after the subse-
quent loading history (S
min,n
) according to the following
rule:
S
op,n
=
_
0 for a > a
n
+r
p,n
g(S
max,n
S
min,n
) h for a
n
a a
n
+r
p,n
,
(16)
where g is the material and S
min,n
/S
max,n
ratio dependent
function, whilst the correction function h accounts for the
S
max,n
/
y
ratio,
y
being the material yield stress.
Plastic zones of various sizes can be generated during
crack growth under VA loading. The corresponding in-
formation must be stored as long as they can still affect
the crack opening level in subsequent cycles. It is assumed
that the influence of a previous cycle i on S
op
persists un-
til, in a current cycle j, a
j
+r
p,j
> a
i
+r
p,i
. In the case of
periodic OLs, each OL causes an increase in S
op
until a
limiting value given by
S
upperbound
op
= S
op,n
+m
st,n
_
S
max,n
S
op,n
_
(17)
is attained, where the m
s t,n
parameter depends on a ra-
tio of the crack growth increment between the OLs to
the plastic zone size generated by an OL prior to that
increment (a/r
p
). After an OL the m
st,n
-value initially
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FATI GUE CRACK GROWTH PREDI CTI ON MODELS FOR METALLI C MATERI ALS 299
Fig. 4 Crack opening behaviour according to the CORPUS model.
Fig. 5 Schematic of discretized plastic strip in the strip yield model.
increases but it immediately drops to zero when the crack
grows beyond the last OL plastic zone (a/r
p
> 1).
Strip yield model
The SY model is based on the Dugdale theory of crack
tip plasticity modified to account for the crack closure
phenomenon. A conception of this type prediction model
was conceived by Dill and Saff,
25
but the first SY model
suitable for application in the case of arbitrary VA loading
sequences was developed by Newman.
26
Newman was the
first to formulate the model flow diagram, to develop an
S
op
computation procedure and to propose a means of
accounting for the 3D stress conditions at the crack tip.
As well known, according to the Dugdale theory the plas-
tic zone ahead of the crack tip is modelled as an infinitely
thin strip located in the net section ahead of the crack tip.
The strip length, i.e. the plastic zone size (r
p
), is equal to
the distance between the real crack tip and the fictitious
crack tip, Fig. 5. To make the fictitious COD for a x
a
fict
equal to the plastic deformation of the strip material,
the fictitious crack surface in this region is loaded with
a compressive yield stress (
y
). The concept is valid for
stationary crack. In order to adapt the Dugdale model to
the case of a growing fatigue crack, the strip material is
disconnected over a distance corresponding to the crack
growth increment. Consequently, a strip of plastically de-
formed material is building up in the crack wake. In that
case, the displacement compatibility between the plastic
strip and the surrounding elastic material requires apply-
ing stresses also on some segments in the crack wake (0
x < a) where the plastic elongation of the strip, L(x), ex-
ceeds the fictitious crack COD, V(x). Stresses applied in
the crack wake to make L(x) = V(x) are referred to as the
contact stresses. For computational purposes the problem
is discretized by dividing the strip into bar elements that
are intact ahead of the crack tip and broken behind it,
as shown in Fig. 5. Stresses and lengths of the strip ele-
ments are computed for a maximum and minimum load
of a given fatigue cycle by considering displacement com-
patibility conditions along the fictitious crack surface. A
solution for stresses and lengths of the strip elements be-
ing known, the S
op
stress is calculated, usually using one
of the methods proposed by Newman,
26,27
and the K
eff
parameter can be determined. Finally, the crack growth
increment incurred in that cycle is determined from the
da/dN versus K
eff
material input data, in line with El-
bers concept. The SY model is considered in more detail
in Part II of this paper.
RE S I DUAL S T RE S S MODE L S
Disparities between observed crack growth and that pre-
dicted from crack closure measurements as well as a fail-
ure of crack closure prediction models to reflect some
experimentally observed crack growth phenomena
prompted a development of alternative to crack closure
based prediction approaches. Several researches recog-
nize great significance of residual stresses ahead of the
crack tip for the fatigue crack growth behaviour, at the
same time questioning the influence of crack closure or
even neglecting the occurrence of this phenomenon.
2830
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300 T. MACHNI EWI CZ
Fig. 6 Stress distributions considered in the UniGrow model at: (a) S
max
; (b) S
min
.
UniGrow model
Noroozi et al.
30
attribute load interaction effects in crack
growth, i.e. retardation or acceleration, to residual stresses
ahead of the crack tip. They assume that the residual stress
distribution in that region depends on the current crack
length and the load history. In their crack growth predic-
tion model termed UniGrow, da/dN is related to a SIF
range defined as K K
r
, where K
r
is the SIF value asso-
ciated with the residual stress distribution. An important
parameter in the model is the crack tip radius

, Fig. 6,
assumed to be material dependent. Because

is of a fi-
nite value, crack growth is predicted using a methodology
applicable to notched members. In UniGrow, a number
of cycles to grow the crack

increment is computed by
the local strain approach according to the MansonCoffin
equation. The local strain amplitude at the crack tip is es-
timated from Neubers rule utilizing a linear solution by
Creager and Paris
31
for the stress distribution ahead of a
blunted crack tip computed at the S
max
and S
min
applied
stresses, Fig. 6, and assuming the material constitutive re-
sponse according to the RambergOsgood relationship.
Because the phenomenon of crack closure is not mod-
elled, the distribution of residual stresses in the crack wake
at S
min
(contact stresses in terms of crack closure) is arbi-
trarily assumed to be a mirror image of the compressive
stress distribution ahead of the crack tip according to the
Creager and Paris solution.
31
Langs model
A crack growth prediction model developed by Lang
28,29
was intended for arbitrary irregular loading histories. The
CDF parameter was defined as
K
eff,L
= K
max
K
PR
K
T
, (18)
where K
T
is the intrinsic threshold and K
PR
is the K-
value (above K
min
) at which the stresses ahead of the crack
tip switch from compression to tension on uploading.
The above interpretation of K
PR
implies that the crack
growth rate in a given cycle is controlled by compressive
residual stresses generated during the preceding unload-
ing. According to Eq. (18), the onset of crack growth
(identified with da/dN of 1 10
7
mm/cycle) occurs
when, after exceeding the K
PR
level, the K
T
thresh-
old is overcome. Lang does not negate the occurrence
of crack closure, but considers it contribution negligible.
Measurements of both K
PR
and K
T
required to cali-
brate the model for a given material are extremely diffi-
cult and lengthy, as coupled with detecting crack growth
rates in the order of 10
7
mm/cycle. The K
PR
evolution
in the Lang model is govern by a number of empirical
equations. Rules for their application are formulated for
specific events in the load history, for example after a step
change in the SIF, after and OL, in the course of a block
of OLs, etc. Time-consuming experiments that would be
required to derive the governing equations for a new ma-
terial practically exclude applicability of Langs model by
independent users.
AFGROW closure model
The crack growth description with the so-called closure
model available in the AFGROW
16
software is appar-
ently in accordance with the crack closure concept, i.e.
da/dN is related to K
eff
defined by Eq. (3). However,
the determination of S
op
stems from premises very differ-
ent than in the case of crack closure based models as the
crack closure phenomenon is attributed to compressive
residual stresses in the reversed plastic zone ahead of the
crack tip rather than to the contact stresses behind the
crack tip. For that reason the AFGROW closure model
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FATI GUE CRACK GROWTH PREDI CTI ON MODELS FOR METALLI C MATERI ALS 301
can be counted among the residual stress concepts. The
S
op
stress is defined as a stress level at which the com-
pressive stresses are overcome by applied tensile loading.
Rules and constraints governing variations in S
op
under
VA loading stem mainly from the available experimental
evidence on crack growth behaviour for aircraft ALalloys.
Though, as said earlier, several other interaction predic-
tion approaches are available in AFGROW, the closure
model is commonly referred to in the literature as the
AFGROW model.
F E MODE L S
FE analyses provide a complete stress tensor, strain ten-
sor and displacement vector at any point of the model at
any applied load level. Hence, any CDF parameter linked
to the stress/strain/displacement behaviour of a cracked
body can be determined. Through-the-thickness, straight
front cracks are usually analysed using 2D FE models
assuming plane stress state or plane strain state condi-
tions,
3234
whilst a 3D modelling finds application in the
case of curvilinear 2Dor 3Dcracks
35,36
or when the effect
of thickness on local stresses in the crack vicinity is inves-
tigated.
37
Crack growth is usually modelled by releasing
successive nodes along the crack line. This implies that
values of successive crack growth increments are defined
by the mesh size, i.e. spacings between the nodes on the
crack path. In order to avoid unduly large crack growth
increments the mesh spacing along the crack line must
be sufficiently refined. Instructive data on the mesh suffi-
ciency to produce mesh independent results in the case of
2D FE models can be found in studies by McClung and
Sehitoglu
32
and Park et al.
33
The literature evidence indicates an extremely strong
dependency of the FE crack growth analysis results on a
number of computational choices, like the mesh size,
33
the material constitutive equation
34
and, in the case of
2D analyses, plain stress versus plain strain assumption.
For example, Sander et al.
38
reported a quarter of a K
range difference between the plane strain and plane stress
K
op
-values.
For broken elements behind the crack tip FE modelling
should assure the capability of carrying compressive (con-
tact) stresses and, at the same time, exclude their ability
to carry tensile stresses. To this end, a specific FE code
infrastructure, if available (e.g. the DEBOND option in
ABAQUS), or user-introduced techniques can be utilized.
For example, Pommier
34
applied spring elements to link
coincident nodes on the crack path. A crack growth incre-
ment was modelled by changing the stiffness of the spring
for a node just ahead of the crack tip from symmetric in
tension and compression to zero in tension, and a very
large value in compression.
A stable material response after a crack advance can only
be achieved when several loading cycles (between 2 and
5) are applied on the model. Hence, assigning to a given
crack length a proper cycle number, i.e. crack growth pre-
dictions, can only be done in a post-processing stage, uti-
lizing available from fatigue tests material data on da/dN
versus a chosen CDF parameter. However, such a pro-
cedure is not applicable for VA loading sequences. In
that case, crack length increments must correspond to
the consecutive loading cycles. FEcodes oriented towards
crack growth predictions for VAloading referred to as the
smoothed FEM(S-FEM) have beendeveloped by Kikuchi
et al.
36
and Kamaya et al.
39
With the S-FEM, a hierarchi-
cal modelling is applied, i.e. the total model area consists
of a global part and local parts, each one discretized in-
dependently. Due to this concept a change of the crack
geometry (e.g. crack length) is only associated with a re-
discretization of a small local region, while the meshing
of the rest of the model area remains undisturbed.
DI S CUS S I ON AND CONCL US I ONS
Reported in the literature prediction results from models
reviewed in this paper suggest that the adequacy of a given
concept is strongly related to the type of material and
loading. This implies that a universal model, that is the
one adequate for an arbitrary loading once calibrated for
a given material, is still lacking. Efforts into developing
such a prediction approach can either involve a totally new
conception or an improvement of one of already available
models. In the latter case it is obvious that a selected model
should be characterized by possibly few constraints on its
applicability and a possibly small amount of empiricism.
The linear model which, by definition, does not account
for load interaction effects is evidently off a list and can
only serve as a tool to quantify the magnitude of load in-
teraction phenomena for a given VA load sequence. Fig-
ure 7 gives fatigue crack growth rates experimentally ob-
served (open symbols) and predicted by the linear model
(closed symbols) for M(T) specimens from the D16 Al
alloy (Russian equivalent of 2024-T3) subject to the mini-
FALSTAFFflight-simulation load spectrum. Three char-
acteristic stress levels (S
max
) are considered. The predicted
da/dN-values, which are two to three times higher than
the measured data, indicate that significant crack growth
retardation has occurred under this load sequence.
When the equivalent SIF concept is used, criteria for
making the best choice for K
eq
are difficult to be rational-
ized as the approach has no physical basis. According to
Sander and Richard,
40
the K
eq
model can yield acceptable
predictions only when the VA load sequence represents
a stochastic uniform distribution. However, Schijves re-
sults
41
suggest that it is a necessary but not a sufficient
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2012 Wiley Publishing Ltd. Fatigue Fract Engng Mater Struct 36, 293307
302 T. MACHNI EWI CZ
Fig. 7 Comparison of fatigue crack growth rates observed in the D16 Al alloy under miniFALSTAFF sequences and predictions from the
non-interaction model.
criterion for the adequacy of this type approaches. The
available literature evidence reviewed by Skorupa
3
sug-
gests that it depends on both the type of VA loading
history and material which K
eq
parameter will be most
adequate.
The Wheeler model is one of the most empirical load
interaction models and its results are strongly dependent
on the w parameter that must be determined for a given
material fromtests under a spectrumand stress level sim-
ilar to the actual case. As such, it can be considered a
relative approach, which assumes that similar load histo-
ries applied on the same detail produce similar interaction
effects in fatigue crack growth. In fact, the literature evi-
dence shows that a satisfactory prediction accuracy from
the Wheeler model can only be obtained if the considered
spectrum is similar to that previously used to determine
the w-value.
3,42
The weak point of the model is that cri-
teria for the spectrum similarity are not precisely defined.
It should be emphasized that both the original and the
generalized Willenborg model will never yield a life pre-
diction that is less than the non-interaction prediction.
Hence, satisfactory results can be obtained for spectra
dominated by OLs, and therefore inducing crack growth
retardation. As an example may serve crack growth pre-
dictions fromthe generalized Willenborg model reported
recently by Ghidini and Donne
43
for Al alloy specimens.
For spectra with a large percentage of compression loads,
the modified generalized Willenborg model referred to
above as well as other concepts proposed to account for
acceleration and reduced retardation due to ULs (e.g. the
WalkerChangWillenborg model
20
) show significantly
improved predictive accuracy compared to the original
concepts. This is, however, achieved at the cost of in-
troducing various empirical parameters, which must be
determined for a given material from tests under some
simple VA sequences. Note that the original Willenborg
model does not incorporate empirical parameters besides
the yield stress.
When applying the plastic zone models to predict OL
effects on crack growth it cannot be overlooked that nei-
ther the Wheeler nor the Willenborg model in both the
original and modified form offer a means to predict the
delayed crack growth retardation, as well as the retarda-
tion zone exceeding the OL plastic zone. The latter phe-
nomenon is well documented in the literature, including
results by the present author and co-workers.
44
A sat-
isfactory correspondence between predictions from the
plastic zone models and experiment could be obtained
either for some specific load histories, as in a work by
Sander and Richard,
45
who applied the modified Wheeler
model, or when additional empirical material and loading
dependent parameters were introduced to reflect the de-
layed retardation phenomenon in the modified Weeler
model, as demonstrated in a study by Yuen and Taheri.
42
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2012 Wiley Publishing Ltd. Fatigue Fract Engng Mater Struct 36, 293307
FATI GUE CRACK GROWTH PREDI CTI ON MODELS FOR METALLI C MATERI ALS 303
Fig. 8 Fatigue crack growth rates observed in the 350WT steel and predicted using the original and modified Wheeler model
42
: (a) single
OL; (b) sequence with multiple OLs.
According to these authors, in order to more accurately
predict the OL effect, namely the transient crack growth
acceleration immediately after the OL, the subsequent
delayed retardation, and the interaction between multiple
OLs, three additional material/loading dependent param-
eters referred to as the delay parameter, OL interaction
parameter and the accelerated SIF range were required in
the Wheeler model, in addition to the retardation factor

R
(cf. Eq. 5). Only the model modified in the above way
allowed for a fairly adequate prediction of each stage of
the post-OL crack growth and load interaction effects for
a sequence with periodically repeated OLs, as it is seen in
Fig. 8a and b respectively.
Padmadinata
46
evaluated performance of the three semi-
empirical crack closure models addressed in Crack clo-
sure models section by comparing their predictions with
crack growth observed in specimens from two aircraft Al
alloys (Al 2024-T3 and 7075-T6) under VAsimplified and
standard flight simulation loading. Specifically, the mod-
els capability of reproducing various experimental trends
due to the change of some loading parameters, as for ex-
ample the ground stress level or gust spectrumseverity, or
due to the change of sheet thickness was vetted. Though
for the flight simulation histories a systematic effect of
the ground stress level was exhibited in the fatigue tests,
the PREFFAS model did not predict any influence of the
severity of the ground load because all negative loads were
clipped to zero. As pointed out by Schijve,
47
another lim-
itation of the PREFFAS model is ignoring the effect of
crack advance on K
op
(cf. Eq. 14), which is acceptable only
when the a increment is much smaller than the plastic
zone size associated with the peak K
max
. Consequently,
the PREFFAS model is not adequate in cases when sig-
nificant a can occur, i.e. at higher crack growth rates
and/or for long, periodically applied OL blocks. Con-
trary to the PREFFAS model results, predictions of the
CORPUS and ONERA models reported by Padmadinata
did indicate a significant reduction in crack growth live
with a more severe ground stress level, but the COR-
PUS model missed this trend when the gust load in flight
simulation loading was severe, i.e. if the maximum com-
pressive gust load (occurring once in 2500 flights) was be-
low the ground load level, and when OLUL or OLUL
combinations occurred in simplified load sequences. Pad-
madinata
46
introduced a modification in the CORPUS
model to remove this deficiency. Figure 9 presents com-
parisons between crack growth lives observed in fatigue
tests on the 2024-T3 Al alloy under simplified flight sim-
ulation loading sequences of two types and the lives ob-
tained from the semi-empirical crack closure models, the
linear model and a SY model from the NASGRO
19
soft-
ware (variable constraint-loss version, see Part II of this
paper). The results are presented in terms of the pre-
dicted to experimentally observed life ratio N
PRED
/N
EXP
.
It is seen that of the semi-empirical models the modified
CORPUS correlates best the test results. Note also that
for some specific combinations of the load sequence and
loading parameters, predictions from the semi-empirical
models (mainly PREFFAS and ONERA) are worse than
according to the linear model, which implies an overes-
timation of load interaction. Interestingly, the results in
Fig. 9 reveal in several cases a somewhat inferior accuracy
of the SY model compared to the semi-empirical models.
It should be however, emphasized, that in contrast to the
semi-empirical models, which have been tuned to describe
crack growth under the specific load histories considered
in Fig. 9 (flight simulation), no constraints of this type
are imposed on crack closure variations in the SY model.
Also, it is worth noting that except for sequence no. 7,
the SY model predictions are on the safe side, though the
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2012 Wiley Publishing Ltd. Fatigue Fract Engng Mater Struct 36, 293307
304 T. MACHNI EWI CZ
Fig. 9 Predicted-to-observed life ratios according to different models for simplified flight simulation loading sequences on the 2024-T3 Al
alloy (stress levels in MPa).
amount on conservatism involved in the predictions can
be overly excessive, as for sequences 6, 8, 10 and 12.
For semi-elliptical surface cracks in plane specimens
of Al alloys under simplified (programmed) and stan-
dard flight simulation loading Ichsan
48
reported a fairly
good correlation between CORPUS model results and
observed crack growth, including crack front shape de-
velopment predictions. However, it cannot be overlooked
that the evaluation of semi-empirical model prediction ca-
pabilities in the above cited works
4648
is limited to crack
growth under specific aircraft loading spectra and typical
aircraft materials. For other types of loading and other
materials much less acceptable results were obtained. For
example, Skorupa et al.
49
noted unsatisfactory CORPUS
model predictions on crack growth in plane specimens
of a low alloy steel under single and periodically applied
OLs.
The UniGrow model addressed in Residual stress mod-
els section involves a determination of the local stresses
(
min,net
, Fig. 6) assuming a blunted crack tip of the same
radius

at both S
max
and S
min
. This implies negation
of the crack tip sharpening at S
min
, which may be con-
sidered a disputable concept. An early validation of the
UniGrow model produced by Noroozi et al.
30,50
was con-
fined to CA loading, while predictions on the post-OL
crack growth response were not satisfactory, Fig. 10a. In
a more recent work, Mikheevskiy and Glinka
51
demon-
strated a very good correlation between predictions of
the improved UniGrow model and experimental results
for various materials and various types of VA loading, as
exemplified in Fig. 10b. Because detailed information on
adjusting the K-factor during the VA load sequence is
lacking in this work, it is difficult to assess how general
are the concepts involved.
As already elucidated in FE models section, FE crack
growth models can hardly be applied to real predictions.
Rather, they are a useful tool to study the effect of some
specific loading events on the local stress/strain field.
A better understanding of the crack growth mechanism
gained in this way can then be utilized in crack growth
prediction approaches.
A unique feature of the SY model is that for each load-
ing cycle the S
op
stress, and hence K
eff
, is determined
in a consistent way, based on the computed solution for
plastic strip element stresses and lengths at consecutive
extremes of the load history (cf. Strip Yield model sec-
tion). This is in contrast to all other prediction models
addressed in this paper, which require adjusting the CDF
parameter according to some empirically based rules re-
lated to specific occurrences in a load sequence. Because
a theoretical foundation behind the SY model makes it
capable of reflecting any trend observed in crack growth,
no limitations on the type of VA loading are imposed,
as in the case of other models. For the above reasons,
the SY model can be currently considered a most ver-
satile and robust crack growth prediction concept. Re-
ported SY model analyses of crack growth indicate that
it can describe a number of crack growth phenomena
that cannot be reproduced by any other prediction model,
such as for example delayed retardation after an OL, ef-
fect of periodically applied OLs, or the OL-influenced
zone larger than the OL plastic zone.
26,52
At the same
time, the literature evidence on a quantitative correlation
between SYmodel predictions and observed crack growth
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2012 Wiley Publishing Ltd. Fatigue Fract Engng Mater Struct 36, 293307
FATI GUE CRACK GROWTH PREDI CTI ON MODELS FOR METALLI C MATERI ALS 305
Fig. 10 Comparison of fatigue crack growth data observed and predicted by using the UniGrow model: (a) 7075-T6 Al alloy, single OL;
50
(b) 350WT steel, sequence with two OLs.
51
is inconsistent in that it reveals both a very good,
53
and
a poor agreement,
11
even for load histories of the same
type. Areason for contradictory data on the model predic-
tive capabilities is differences between specific SY model
implementations. Possible choices and decisions when de-
veloping a SY model and their far-reaching consequence
for the model results are considered in detail in Part II of
this paper.
When in a prediction model a range of SIF is employed
as the CDF parameter, the model applicability to real-
work problems is conditioned by the availability of an
appropriate K-solution. A number of K-solutions which
can be useful for practical problems are available in NAS-
GRO
19
and AFGROW.
16
When analyses with prediction
models incorporated in these software packages are run,
also user-introduced correction factors can be applied on
top of the K-solutions already available in the programme.
Alternatively, it is possible to use an external K-solver that
communicates with AFGROW, though this approach can
be very time-consuming. Crack growth predictions for
interacting multiple cracks growing simultaneously in a
structure are currently not possible using the NASGRO
and AFGROW models. This issue is of practical impor-
tance in the case of multi-site damage in joints with me-
chanical fasteners, and the corresponding K-solutions and
crack growth prediction approaches are amply covered in
the recent book by Skorupa A. and Skorupa M.
54
In the case of the SY model a solution for the crack sur-
face displacements is needed, in addition to the solution
for K. The approach allowing the treatment of any ge-
ometry of interest using the SY model is covered in Part
II of this paper.
Acknowledgement
This paper owes much to the support and helpful com-
ments of Professor Magorzata Skorupa, AGHUniversity
of Science and Technology.
The financial support from the governmental research
funds within the years 20092012 is acknowledged.
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