The results are presented of an analytical and experimental program which was conducted to determine if a biaxial stress field produces a significant effect on the fatigue and fracture behavior of thin plates. The materials tested were 6061-T4 and 6061-T6 aluminum sheets and plexiglas sheets. The experimental program included fracture tests with various magnitudes of biaxial load at fracture and fatigue tests with sinusoidal loading normal to the crack and either constant or sinusoidal stresses applied parallel to the crack. The effect of nonsingular stresses on the behavior of a crack is examined from both a linear elastic and an elastic-plastic viewpoint. The experimental study indicates that a biaxial stress field does affect the behavior of a crack in a thin sheet. An increase in the apparent fracture toughness with increasing biaxial load was observed experimentally but as yet cannot be adequately explained using linear fracture mechanics theory. Biaxial stresses were found to produce a shift in the fatigue crack growth rate data, and it is shown that this shift can be predicted using several empirical fatigue crack propagation models.

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