The finite element method is used to derive a general stress intensity factor expression for straight-fronted and circumferential surface cracks subjected to an arbitrary stress field. The superposition technique is used: the stress field normal to the crack face is resolved into uniform tension and linear bending stress distributions. The K1 expression is given in terms of magnification factors that are function of these two types of stress field, the geometry considered and the opening of the crack at the free surface under loading. The results obtained using this method are in good agreement with other numerical and experimental K1 solutions of cracks under simple or complex conditions.

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