The existing studies on the behavior of cracks in continuously graded materials assume the elastic properties to vary in the plane of the crack. In the case of a plate graded along the thickness and having a crack in its plane, the elastic properties will vary along the crack front. The present study aims at investigating the effect of elastic gradients along the crack front on the structure of the near-tip stress fields in such transversely graded materials. The first four terms in the expansion of the stress field are obtained by the eigenfunction expansion approach (Hartranft and Sih, 1969, “The Use of Eigen Function Expansion in the General Solution of Three Dimensional Crack Problems,” J. Math. Mech., 19(2), pp. 123–138) assuming an exponential variation of the elastic modulus. The results of this part of the study indicated that for an opening mode crack, the angular structure of the first three terms in the stress field expansion corresponding to r(12), r0, and r12 are identical to that given by Williams’s solution for homogeneous material (Williams, 1957, “On the Stress Distribution at the Base of a Stationary Crack,” ASME J. Appl. Mech., 24, pp. 109–114). Transversely graded plates having exponential gradation of elastic modulus were prepared, and the stress intensity factor (SIF) on the compliant and stiffer face of the material was determined using strain gauges for an edge crack subjected to pure bending. The experimental results indicated that the SIF can vary as much as two times across the thickness for the gradation and loading considered in this study.

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