The closure behavior of fatigue cracks growing out of notches is studied with an elastic-plastic finite element model. Crack opening stresses are shown to change significantly as the crack extends. Opening stresses are low at first and then gradually rise to stable values as the crack tip moves away from the notch field. These transient changes are not limited to the region of the original inelastic notch field. The rate of change of opening stresses with increasing crack length is a function of both nominal maximum stress and nominal stress ratio. Stable levels are reached more quickly at higher stress ratios and lower maximum stresses. These transient changes in Sopen have been emulated with a simple model which considers only changes in Sopen due to changes in the local stress field. The numerical results are quantitatively consistent with observed trends in experimental crack growth data, which show that accelerated crack growth can occur beyond the original notch plastic boundary. Finite element results and experimental data also both suggest that the accelerated short crack growth effect for cracks near notches is much less pronounced at higher stress ratios.

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