Cleavage crack propagation has been tested for three different geometries of Compact Tensile (CT) specimens: CT25, CT50 and extended CT25 (CT25 with CT50 width) (Figure 3). The experimental results show that the crack paths are straight for CT25 and CT50, but they are unstable and curved for extended CT specimens (Figure 5 to 7).

Numerical computation had been performed by extended finite element method (XFEM) in CAST3M software. 2D modeling was used in order to predict the crack path. The analysis was based on a local non-linear dynamic approach with a RKR fracture stress criterion depending on temperature and strain rate.

In order to simulate the curvature of the cracks path, a statistical effect was introduced in the model to take into account the spatial distribution of cleavage initiators, which is the characteristic of cleavage fracture. At each step of propagation during the modeling, the direction was randomly chosen, according to a uniform defects distribution.

The numerical results show a good agreement with experience. The different crack paths were curved in extended CT25, but remained almost straight in CT25 and CT50 specimens, despite of the instability introduced in the modeling in the propagation direction. These results show that the statistics of micro-defects can induce, jointly with the geometry of specimen, a large scatter of crack propagation paths.

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