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Analysis of the essential work of fracture method as applied to UHMWPE

Naz, S., Sweeney, J., Coates, P. D.
Journal of materials science 2010 v.45 no.2 pp. 448-459
deformation, finite element analysis, ligaments, mechanical properties, models, molecular weight
The validity of the basic assumptions behind the method of essential work of fracture (EWF), as applied to ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), is evaluated using finite element modelling. To define a suitable model of constitutive behaviour, the mechanical properties of UHMWPE have been measured in both uniaxial tension and compression over a range of strain rates. The observed strain rate dependence of stress, including the observed differences in strain rate sensitivity between tension and compression, is interpreted in terms of a single Eyring process. The constitutive theory is constructed comprising an Eyring process and hyperelastic networks, the latter having responses symmetric with respect to tension and compression. This theory is implemented within a finite element scheme, and used to model fracture measurements made on the same material using double-edge notch tensile specimens. Calculations of the non-essential work and of the extent of the plastic zones are thus made possible. It is concluded that the specific non-essential work is essentially constant, but that the shape factor β, assumed constant in the conventional analysis, varies significantly with ligament length. The implication of this finding on the derived EWF value is evaluated and found to be slight.