The techniques of selected area electron channeling and positive replica examination have been used to study the plastic zones attending fatigue crack propagation in 304 SS, 6061-T6 aluminum alloy, and Fe-3Si steel. These observations allowed the strain distribution at the crack tip to be determined. The results indicate that the concepts of a monotonic and a cyclic plastic zone are essentially correct, with the strains at demarcation between these two zones being 3 to 6 percent. Strain distribution varies as r−1/2 in the cyclic zone and as ln r in the monotonic plastic zone. The strain distributions for all materials studied may be made approximately coincident by using a dimensionless parameter related to distance from the crack tip.

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