Effects of residual stress and localised strain-hardening on the fracture of ductile materials

Harry E Coules, Graeme Horne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

1 Citation (Scopus)
124 Downloads (Pure)


The strain history of a ductile material can affect its apparent initiation fracture toughness as well as its resistance to subsequent crack growth. Using neutron diffraction or synchrotron X-ray diffraction in conjunction with digital image correlation, it is possible to map both the total strain around the tip of a propagating crack, and the elastic strain component. Separating the elastic and irreversible strain components allows us to experimentally investigate the effects that residual stresses and prior strain-hardening have on crack propagation. This article presents the results of two experiments using these techniques. In the first experiment, it was shown that residual stresses in a 7xxx-series aluminium alloy affect not only the initiation of fracture but also fracture propagation. During crack propagation, residual stress relaxation occurs due to extension of the crack and plastic deformation in the region ahead of the crack tip. This affects the material’s apparent crack growth resistance in a non-linear manner and hence changes its fracture stability. In a second experiment, it was shown that the plastic zone ahead of a crack in a ductile material (in this case a ductile ferritic steel) can be modified by localised strain-hardening prior to fracture. Localised strain-hardening using an indentation tool was observed to cause small increases in the specimens’ peak load capacity and its energy absorption prior to the onset of unstable tearing. Using synchrotron diffraction, it was shown that is because hardening a region ahead of the crack tip causes stress redistribution to this region and away from the crack tip itself during fracture loading. These findings can inform how ductile and semi-ductile fracture is treated in structural integrity assessment procedures, particularly in the presence of residual stress. They also suggest that new localised peening treatments to improve the fracture resistance of structures in certain areas may be possible.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProcedia Structural Integrity
Number of pages8
Volume17 (2019)
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2019
EventThe 3rd International Conference on Structural Integrity - Funchal, Portugal
Duration: 2 Sep 20195 Sep 2019


ConferenceThe 3rd International Conference on Structural Integrity
Abbreviated titleICSI 2019


  • Ductile fracture
  • Plasticity
  • Residual stress
  • Strain energy release rate


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