A three-dimensional crack propagation simulation is performed by the Dual Boundary Element Method (DBEM). The Stress Intensity Factors (SIFs) along the front of a semi elliptical crack, initiated from the external surface of a hollow axle, are calculated for bending and press fit loading separately and for a combination of them. In correspondence of the latter loading condition, a crack propagation is also simulated, with the crack growth rates calculated using the NASGRO3 formula, calibrated for the material under analysis (steel ASTM A469). The J-integral and COD approaches are selected for SIFs calculation in DBEM environment, where the crack path is assessed by the minimum strain energy density criterion (MSED). In correspondence of the initial crack scenario, SIFs along the crack front are also calculated by the Finite Element (FE) code ZENCRACK, using COD, in order to provide, by a cross comparison with DBEM, an assessment on the level of accuracy obtained. Due to the symmetry of the bending problem a pure mode I crack propagation is realised with no kinking of the propagating crack whereas for press fit loading the crack propagation becomes mixed mode. The crack growth analysis is nonlinear because of normal gap elements used to model the press fit condition with added friction, and is developed in an iterative-incremental procedure. From the analysis of the SIFs results related to the initial cracked configuration, it is possible to assess the impact of the press fit condition when superimposed to the bending load case.
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