SUBJECT: Ph.D. Dissertation Defense
BY: Gustavo Castelluccio
TIME: Tuesday, May 1, 2012, 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: MRDC Building, 4211
TITLE: A Study on the Influence of Microstructure on Small Fatigue Cracks
COMMITTEE: Dr. David L. McDowell, Chair (ME)
Dr. Richard W. Neu (ME)
Dr. Olivier N. Pierron (ME)
Dr. Kenneth Gall (MSE)
Dr. Gregory B. Olson (Northwestern University)


In spite of its significance in industrial applications, the prediction of the influence of microstructure on the early stages of crack formation and growth in engineering alloys remains underdeveloped. The formation and early growth of fatigue cracks in the high cycle fatigue regime lasts for much of the fatigue life, and it is strongly influenced by microstructural features such as grain size, twins and morphological and crystallographic texture. However, most fatigue models do not predict the influence of the microstructure on early stages of crack formation, or they employ parameters that should be calibrated with experimental data from specimens with microstructures of interest. These post facto strategies are adequate to characterize materials, but they are not fully appropriate to aid in the design of fatigue-resistant engineering alloys. This thesis considers finite element computational models that explicitly render the microstructure of selected FCC metallic systems and introduces a fatigue methodology that estimates transgranular and intergranular fatigue growth for microstructurally small cracks. The driving forces for both failure modes are assessed by means of fatigue indicators, which are used along with life correlations to estimate the fatigue life. Furthermore, cracks with meandering paths are modeled by considering crack growth on a grain-by-grain basis with a damage model embedded analytically to account for stress and strain redistribution as the cracks extend. The methodology is implemented using a crystal plasticity constitutive model calibrated for studying the effect of microstructure on early fatigue life of a powder processed Ni-base RR1000 superalloy at elevated temperature under high cycle fatigue conditions. This alloy is employed for aircraft turbine engine disks, which undergo a thermomechanical production process to produce a controlled bimodal grain size distribution. The prediction of the fatigue life for this complex microstructure presents particular challenges that are discussed and addressed. The conclusions of this work describe the mechanistic of microstructural small crack. In particular, the fatigue crack growth driving force has been characterized as it evolves within grains and crosses to other grains. Furthermore, the computational models serve as a tool to assess the effects of microstructural features on early stages of fatigue crack formation and growth, such as distributions of grain size and twins.