This paper presents an analysis of the notch effect in fracture micromechanisms. To this end, experimental results obtained in notched specimens are presented, together with the corresponding stress field at fracture and the SEM fractographies. The specimens comprise three materials (structural steel S275JR, high-strength aluminum alloy Al7075-T651 and Polymethyl methacrylate-PMMA) and notch radii varying from 0 mm (cracks) up to 2.5 mm. The results show how the stress relaxation caused by the notch effect is accompanied by a progressive change in the fracture mechanisms, from basically brittle ones in cracked conditions (for the three materials analyzed) to non-linear mechanisms observed for high notch radii, which explain the increase caused by the notch effect in both the load bearing capacity and the apparent fracture toughness. Also the concept of critical radius, that one below which the notch effect is negligible, is justified by SEM observations.

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