The tip velocity of a crack propagating through a viscoelastic material depends on geometry, applied load and its history, and material properties. A consideration of the work done by the unloading tractions at the crack tip shows that, for a large crack propagating through an infinitely long strip under constant lateral strain, the rate of propagation can be calculated from a knowledge of the intrinsic fracture energy (a material constant), the material creep compliance, and an additional size parameter. This parameter vanishes from the analysis if the material is elastic, and the familiar instability criterion is obtained in this case. Comparison with experimental data is provided and the consequences of step loadings are examined.

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