Metallurgical and Materials Transactions A

, Volume 43, Issue 9, pp 3086-3096

First online:

On the Distinction Between Plasticity- and Roughness-Induced Fatigue Crack Closure

  • Sotomi IshiharaAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, University of Toyama Email author 
  • , Yuya SugaiAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, University of Toyama
  • , Arthur J. McEvilyAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical, Materials, Biomolecular Engineering, University of Connecticut


A series of experiments has been carried out to determine why some alloys display plasticity-induced fatigue crack closure (PIFCC), whereas other alloys display roughness-induced crack closure (RIFCC). Two alloys were studied, the aluminum alloy 6061-T6 (PIFCC) and a steel of comparable yield strength, S25C (RIFCC). The experiments included the determination of the crack-opening levels as a function of ΔK, da/dN as a function of ΔK eff – ΔK effth, removal of the specimen surface layers, removal of the crack wake, the determination of crack front shapes, crack surface roughness profiles, and the degree of lateral contraction in the plastic zone at a crack tip. Based on crack tip opening displacement (CTOD) considerations, it is concluded that PIFCC is favored in alloys of low modulus and relatively low yield strength. In addition, a low strain-hardening rate such as for the 6061 alloy will favor PIFCC. Steels with a higher modulus and a higher strain-hardening rate than 6061 will, in general, exhibit RIFCC, even at comparable yield strength levels. In ferritic steels, the fracture surface roughness and consequently the crack-opening level will increase as the coarseness of the microstructure increases.