This paper presents the results of a fundamental finite-element based study of the crack-closure effects associated with combined residual and applied loading. First, an analytical expression for a representative two-dimensional residual stress field is derived. This residual stress field contains a central compressive region surrounded by an equilibrating tensile region. The analytical expression allows the size and shape of the field to be varied along with the magnitude of the residual stress. The residual stress field is then used as a prescribed initial stress field in a finite element model, in addition to a far field applied load. By introducing cracks of increasing length into these models, charts of stress-intensity-factor versus crack length are produced for different relative magnitudes of residual stress and applied load and for different sizes and shape of the residual stress field. These charts provide insight into the way in which crack-tip conditions evolve with crack growth under conditions of combined residual and applied loading and also enable conditions of crack closure and partial closure to be identified.

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