A cohesive XFEM model for simulating fatigue crack growth under mixed-mode loading and overloading

R. Dekker (Corresponding author), F.P. van der Meer, J. Maljaars, L.J. Sluys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Structures are subjected to cyclic loads that can vary in direction and magnitude, causing constant amplitude mode I simulations to be too simplistic. This study presents a new approach for fatigue crack propagation in ductile materials that can capture mixed-mode loading and overloading. The extended finite element method is used to deal with arbitrary crack paths. Furthermore, adaptive meshing is applied to minimize computation time. A fracture process zone ahead of the physical crack tip is represented by means of cohesive tractions from which the energy release rate, and thus the stress intensity factor can be extracted for an elastic-plastic material. The approach is therefore compatible with the Paris equation, which is an empirical relation to compute the fatigue crack growth rate. Two different models to compute the cohesive tractions are compared. First, a cohesive zone model with a static cohesive law is used. The second model is based on the interfacial thick level set method in which tractions follow from a given damage profile. Both models show good agreement with a mode I analytical relation and a mixed-mode experiment. Furthermore, it is shown that the presented models can capture crack growth retardation as a result of an overload.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-577
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2019


  • cohesive zone model
  • fatigue crack growth
  • interfacial thick level set
  • mixed-mode
  • overload
  • XFEM


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