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Since people started forging and working with metal, they've arguably been interested in how it breaks. But only since the 1950s have scientists and engineers had a mathematical framework for using laboratory measurements of material failure to predict a structure's resistance to cracking.
"These tools work well for brittle materials, such as glass, but often not for other materials," said Brad Boyce, a materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories.
Researchers - Theories - Fractures - Materials - Microstructures
Researchers who know the existing theories still struggle with predicting fractures in materials with complex microstructures or components made with 3-D printing. They also do not work well for ductile metals, such as some steels, that deform and stretch before they fracture.
Around the world, materials scientists and engineers are trying different ways to predict fractures in ductile metals, but it's not clear which approach is most accurate. To compare the different methods, Sandia researchers have presented three voluntary challenges to their colleagues: Given the same basic information about the shape, composition and loading of a metal part, could they predict how it would eventually fracture?
Overview - Sandia - Fracture - Challenge - Issue
An overview of the third Sandia Fracture Challenge was recently published in a special issue of the International Journal of Fracture dedicated to results from the challenge. Now the friendly competition has shifted into a collaborative community of researchers refining their techniques for engineering reliable structures made from a variety of materials.
Typically, predictions like these involve repeated rounds of experimental measurements and calculations, so that the modeling is essentially calibrated to known fracture data. For these challenges, however, participants did not know the actual outcome until after the end of the competition.
Challenge - Summer - Teams - Researchers - Universities
The first challenge, held in summer 2012, attracted 13 teams of researchers from universities, national labs and companies to predict crack initiation and spreading in a common stainless steel alloy. They all received the same engineering drawing of...
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