An Abaqus plug-in to simulate fatigue crack growth


Fatigue crack propagation is an important consideration in evaluating the design life of engineering components, especially in the energy and transport industries. Despite its importance, fatigue analyses are not usually supported by commercial Finite Element (FE) codes; in fact, most FE codes require the addition of costly plug-ins to perform fatigue crack growth simulations. Therefore, this paper introduces a new, freely distributed plug-in to simulate fatigue crack growth with the commercial FE code Abaqus. The plug-in includes five different fatigue crack growth models and relies on the extended FE method to simulate crack propagation. The plug-in is limited to 2D analyses, but covers all necessary steps for fatigue crack growth simulations, from creating the geometry to job submission and post-processing. The implementation of the plug-in is validated by comparing its predictions to analytical and experimental results. Finally, we hope that the simplicity of the plug-in and the fact that it is distributed freely will make it a useful simulation tool for industrial, research and educational purposes.

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\(a\) :

Crack length (mm)

\(\Delta a\) :

Crack growth incremental length (mm)

\(A\) :

Material constant

\({A}_{k}\), \({B}_{k}\) :

Fitting constants

\(C, m\) :

Paris law empirical coefficients

\({C}_{n}, n, p, q\) :

NASGRO empirical coefficients

\({C}_{f}\), \({m}_{f}\) :

Forman law empirical coefficients

\({C}_{w}\),\({m}_{w}\) :

Walker law empirical coefficients

\(da/dN\) :

Crack growth rate in length/cycle

\(E\) :

Young’s modulus (\(\mathrm{GPa}\))


Contour integral


Energy release rate


Interaction energy integral



\({K}_{I}\), \({K}_{II}\) :

Mode-I and mode-II stress intensity factors (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\({K}_{C}\) :

Fracture toughness (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\({K}_{IC}\) :

Mode-I fracture toughness (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\({K}_{\mathrm{crit}}\) :

Critical value of SIF (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\({K}_{\mathrm{max}}, {K}_{\mathrm{min}}\) :

SIF for the maximum and minimum loads in the cycle (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\(\Delta K\) :

SIF range (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\({\Delta K}_{\mathrm{eq}}\) :

Equivalent \(\Delta K\) for mixed-mode loading condition (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\({\Delta K}_{\mathrm{th}}\) :

Threshold \(\Delta K\) (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\({\Delta K}_{w}\) :

Walker \(\Delta K\) (\(\mathrm{MPa}\sqrt{\mathrm{m}}\))

\(\gamma \) :

Material constant

\(N\) :

Number of cycles

\({N}_{i}\) :

Number of cycles at each iteration

\(P\) :

Applied load (\(\mathrm{N}\))

P max :

Maximum applied load (\(\mathrm{N}\))

\({p}_{e}\), \({q}_{e}\) :

Material constants

\(R\) :

Stress ratio

r :

Point distance from crack-tip point

\({S}_{max}\),\({S}_{\mathrm{min}}\) :

Maximum and minimum stresses (\(\mathrm{MPa}\))

\({\sigma }_{yld}\) :

Yield strength (\(\mathrm{MPa}\))

\({\upsigma }_{\mathrm{ij}}\), \({\upepsilon }_{\mathrm{ij}}\) :

Stress and strain tensors

\(t\) :

Thickness (mm)

\({t}_{0}\) :

Reference thickness related to the state of plane strain

\({\theta }_{c}\) :

Crack front kinking angle (\(\mathrm{deg}\))

\(W\) :

Width of the specimen (mm)

\({\mathrm{W}}_{\mathrm{enrg}}\) :

Strain energy density


Compact tension


Center-cracked specimen in tension


Disk-shaped CT specimen


Fatigue crack growth


Finite element


FE method


Linear elastic fracture mechanics


Stress intensity factor


Single-edge bending specimen


Single-edge notched specimen


Single-edge notched under tension


Extended FEM


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Correspondence to Mohammad Malekan.

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Malekan, M., Khosravi, A. & St-Pierre, L. An Abaqus plug-in to simulate fatigue crack growth. Engineering with Computers (2021).

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  • Fatigue crack growth
  • Abaqus plug-in
  • Python scripting
  • Finite element method
  • Life estimation