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Fracture Behavior in Materials

Brittle fracture

Materials can fail when the forces acting upon this material are greater than its strength. The fractures that result can occur in various shapes and sizes.

A crucial distinction in fracture behavior is found between ductile and brittle fractures: the main difference is presence/absence of plastic deformation: when a fracture is accompanied by significant plastic deformation, it is considered a ductile overload. Without plastic deformation, it is a brittle fracture.

Brittle Fractures

Brittle fractures are often (though not always) the result of abrupt changes in force. Possible examples include sudden pressure fluctuations in a system, a collision, or impact loading. Such fractures are difficult to predict.

Ductile Fractures

Ductile fractures occur more slowly as the material will first deform before breaking. Such shape changes are therefore a warning from the material that it is being overloaded.

Other Factors Influencing Failure

Failures can also occur when the forces remain much smaller than the tensile strength of a material. A typical example of this is fatigue. This is a damage mechanism that occurs under the influence of alternating forces. Some examples are the forces acting on a rotating shaft, or vibrations caused by a pump, but also stresses due to temperature variations.

Analysis of Fractures

A lot of information about the cause of a fracture can be gathered from the shape of a fracture. A fracture surface inclined at 45° to the axis direction, for example, indicates a torsional load. Other forms of force application cause a flat and/or symmetrical fracture surface, which also provides information about the loading conditions.

In addition to the shape of the fracture surface, there are other characteristics from which the type of fracture can be deducted. Such a fracture surface examination, combined with a metallographic examination, allows the cause of the fracture to be determined. This is important to know what measures can be taken to avoid future failures: a brittle impact fracture or a fatigue failure may seem very similar at first glance but obviously require different preventive measures. It can often also be determined whether the fracture was caused by a local material defect or by incorrect material use.

Corrosion can also influence the fracture behavior of materials. However, exploring this aspect fully merits its own dedicated discussion. Stay tuned for a future article where we'll dive deeper into this fascinating topic.

Want to learn more about failure analysis? Here we take a look at one of the most important tools in our failure lab: the SEM-EDX.

In the meantime, if you encounter any instances of failure, don't hesitate to reach out to us via info@metalogic.be! We're here to help!

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METALogic - Your Corrosion Partner: Fracture Behavior in Materials
Fracture Behavior in Materials
Materials can fail when the forces acting upon this material are greater than its strength.
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METALogic - Your Corrosion Partner
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