Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Production Engineering, Mining and Metallurgy, Traffic Engineering, Precision Mechanics
Abstract The microfracture patterns observed around point indentations in brittle solids are investigated. A description is first given of the stress field in an elastic half-space loaded normally at a point in its surface. This field is then used as a basis for analysing the crack geometry. A localized zone of irreversible deformation forms about the contact point, thereby removing a singularity in the elasticity solutions and providing nucleation centres for the ensuing microcracks. Generally, two main types of ‘vent’ cracks are observed to propagate from the deformation zone: median vents, formed during indenter loading, spread downward below the point of contact on planes of symmetry, and lateral vents, formed during unloading, spread sideways toward the specimen surface. Of these, the median vent is relatively well-behaved, and is amenable to standard fracture-mechanics analysis. From such an analysis we derive the means for predetermining, in principle, the depth of fracture damage under given point loading conditions. The significance of the results in relation to important practical applications, such as glass cutting and surface fragmentation processes, is discussed.
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