The J-integral resistance curve is the most important material property used in structural integrity assessment. ASTM E1820 is a commonly used fracture toughness test standard for measuring the critical value of J-integral at the onset of ductile fracture and J-R curve. The recommended test procedure is the elastic unloading compliance method where multiple points are obtained from a single specimen test. For a stationary crack, the J-integral is simply calculated from the area under the load-displacement record using the η-factor equation. For a growing crack, the J-integral is calculated using the incremental equation proposed by Ernst et al. (1981) to consider the crack growth correction. In order to obtain accurate J-integral values, ASTM E1820 requires small and uniform crack growth increments. To allow larger crack growth increments in the unloading compliance test, an improved J-integral estimate equation is needed. Thus, this paper proposes a new incremental J-integral equation for determining J-R curves. An analytic approach is then developed and used to evaluate the accuracy of the proposed incremental equation using single edge bending and compact specimens for different hardening materials. Followed is an experimental evaluation using actual fracture test data for HY80 steel. The results show that the proposed incremental J-integral equation can obtain much improved results of J-R curves for larger crack growth increments, and thus is more accurate than the present ASTM E1820 equation.

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