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An experimental investigation into dynamic fracture: III. On steady-state crack propagation and crack branching


This is the third in a series of four papers in which problems of dynamic crack propagation are examined experimentally in large, thin sheets of Homalite-100 such that crack growth in an unbounded plate is simulated. In the first paper crack initiation resulting from stress wave loading to the crack tip as well as crack arrest were reported. It was found that for increasing rates of loading in the microsecond range the stress intensity required for initiation rises markedly. Crack arrest occurs abruptly without any deceleration phase at a stress intensity lower than that which causes initiation under quasi-static loading.

In the second paper we analyze the occurrence of micro cracks at the front of the running main crack which control the rate of crack growth. The micro cracks are recorded by real time photography. By the same means it is shown that these micro cracks grow and turn away smoothly from the direction of the main crack in the process of branching.

In the present paper we report results on crack propagation and branching. It is found that crack propagation occurs at a constant velocity although the stress intensity factor changes markedly. Furthermore, the velocity is determined by the stress wave induced intensity factor at initiation. The terminal velocity in Homalite-100 was found to be about half the Rayleigh wave speed (0.45 C r ). These observations are analyzed in terms of a microcrack model alluded to in the second paper of this series. A mechanism for crack branching is proposed which considers branching to be a natural evolution from a “cloud” of microcracks that accompany and lead the main crack. These results are believed to apply to quasi-brittle materials other than Homalite-100 and the reasons for this belief are discussed briefly in the first paper of this series.

In the final paper of the series the effect of stress waves impinging on the tip of a rapidly moving crack is examined. Waves affect the velocity and the direction of propagation as well as the process of crack branching.

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Ravi-Chandar, K., Knauss, W.G. An experimental investigation into dynamic fracture: III. On steady-state crack propagation and crack branching. Int J Fract 26, 141–154 (1984).

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