The crack growth behavior of the aluminum alloy 6061 T651 was investigated using cruciform specimens with a measurement area of 120 x 120 x 2 mm3 with two center crack configurations of the starting notch parallel to one of the loading axes and under an angle of 45°, respectively. For the case with crack direction in one of the loading axes the load ratio R = ?min / ?max as well as the force parallel to the crack direction (resulting in different T-stresses) were changed. Crack growth rate was studied under varying T-stress. Also the retardation after single overloads was determined for R = 0.1, R = 0.5 and R = 0.8. As a result a change in T-stress does not significantly affect crack growth rate on high R ratios (R = 0.5) for constant ?F loading. In case of lower R-ratios (R = 0.1) crack growth retardation was observed at presence of a static tensile load parallel to the crack growth direction due to higher influence of crack closure. Furthermore, such tensile load results in longer retardation periods after applying an overload at R = 0.1. Less pronounced overload retardation can be assumed with tensile force FX for R = 0.8 and 1.3 times overloads. Non proportional loading with a phase shift in time between the two axes of 45° and 90° results in a mixed mode situation (mode I / mode II) at the crack tip of a crack which is orientated under 45° to the loading axes. Mode I and mode II fractions change during every cycle. A phase change of 45° did not change crack growth significantly compared with proportional load. Crack branching occurred when changing from proportional loading to non-proportional 90° phase shifted loading. The two crack tips of the center crack under 45° divided in 4 crack tips under approximately 90° to the loading axes which were simultaneous propagating for more than 10 mm. Finally, two crack tips propagated faster than the remaining two. The stress intensity factors KI and KII as well as the T-stress where calculated by FEA (ABAQUS). For the 45° crack orientation and the non-proportional load case with 90° phase shift linear elastic FEA calculations show that there are time dependent rotating principal stress axes on the crack tip during one cycle. In the unnotched (uncracked) specimen there are fixed principal stress axes also in the phase shifted loading case. The configuration with 4 cracks has a significant higher ?KI than the configuration with two crack tips while ?KII is significantly lower. In addition uniaxial crack growth measurements were performed on SENB specimen in the size of 10 x 20 x 100 mm3 covering the threshold and Paris-region for loading ratios R = 0.1, 0.3, 0.5, 0.8.
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