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Fatigue & Fracture Mechanics in FEA

Fatigue & Fracture Mechanics in FEA

Fatigue failure occurs when a material is subjected to repeated loading and unloading cycles. The level of stresses present to cause failure may be well below values considered safe for a single static load application. The critical fatigue initiation is usually at a very localized site and may be a result of additional factors such as stress concentration due to component shape, surface finish or corrosion pitting.

Fatigue has been cited as one of the major causes of in-service failure throughout engineering history. The earliest application of rotating machinery with its attendant cyclic nature produced documented fatigue failures. Textile loom machinery, pumping machinery and above all steam railway operations were beset by a mode of failure that was not understood. The early railway axle failures and mining equipment failures prompted fundamental testing and research. The theories on which much of modern fatigue analysis is based on were developed all through the industrial revolution and into the 1920’s.

The advent of more complex structures with more complex loading histories was typified by the introduction of the first jet powered airliners. Sadly new fatigue lessons had to be learned in the period from 1954 as a result of the DH Comet crashes.

The nature and prediction of fatigue is much more understood, and is a requirement for most design products today. However the application of fatigue analysis is not easy and a good background is essential to be able to use the powerful FEA method as a basis for fatigue analysis.

Much of the terminology used in setting up the fatigue problem through a modern GUI is confusing and the choice of options is not always clear.

The objective of this course is to break down the fatigue analysis process into clearly defined steps, give an overview of the physics involved and show how to successfully implement practical solutions using Finite Element Analysis.

Who Should Attend?

This course is aimed at practicing engineers who wish to learn more about how to apply finite element techniques to fatigue analysis in the most effective manner. Ideally a student should have some experience of FEA analysis, but this is not essential.

The material that is presented is independent of any particular software package, making it ideally suited to current and potential users of all commercial finite element software systems.

This course is a must for all engineers aiming to use FEA as a reliable predictive tool for fatigue analysis.


Free Fatigue Life Calculator

Free Fatigue Life CalculatorAll attendees on the course will be able to download a fully functioning Fatigue Life Calculator. As well as forming a useful tool for many of the homework tasks set, attendees will be able to explore the implications of both High Cycle and Low Cycle Fatigue as discussed in the class.

A tutorial guide is also available for download. Basic Material Data and Strain Life Material data is input, or derived from fundamentals. Neuber notch and Plastic material intersection points are found allowing a hysteresis cycle to be plotted. The strain life curve is plotted and the number of cycles to failure is calculated.

The Calculator has been steadily developed over the last few years of delivering this course and attendees will be entitled to future upgrades.

Course Process and Details

Students will join the audio portion of the meetings by utilizing the VoIP (i.e. headset connected to the computer via headphone and microphone jacks) or by calling into a standard toll line. If you are interested in additional pricing to call-in using a toll-free line, please send an email to: e-learning @ .

E-learning classes are ideal for companies with a group of engineers requiring training. E-learning classes can be provided to suit your needs and timescale. Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Course Programme

This is a 5-session online training course, with each session lasting for approximately 2.5/3 hours, depending on homework submissions, questions & discussions.

You can attend the sessions live, and/or by listening to the recordings, which will be made available shortly after the end of each session.

(click to expand)


Session 1


  • Introduction to Fatigue
  • High Cycle Fatigue Methods
  • Mean Stress Effects
  • Fatigue Correction Factors
  • Loading Environment
  • Low Cycle Fatigue Overview
  • FEA Application of Fatigue
  • Homework Session 1
  • Q and A


Session 2


  • Homework Review
  • Notch Effects in High Cycle Fatigue
  • Notch effects Low Cycle Fatigue
  • Low Cycle Fatigue - Overview
  • Low Cycle Fatigue - Mean Stress
  • Low Cycle Fatigue - Data
  • Cycle Counting Methods
  • Homework
  • Q and A


Session 3


  • Homework Review
  • More FEA implications
  • Stress Concentrations
  • Multi Axial Fatigue
  • Q and A


Session 4


  • Background to Random Analysis
  • The PSD specification
  • Vibration Fatigue Analysis
  • Examples
  • Q and A


Session 5


  • Introduction to Fracture
  • FEA Implementations
  • Fatigue in Composites
  • Q and A

PSE Competencies addressed by this training course (click to expand)


IDCompetence Statement
FATkn1List the conditions necessary for fatigue failure.
FATkn2List the possible sources of cyclic loading in your company products.
FATkn3List potential sites for fatigue in your company products.
FATkn4Sketch a sinusoidal stress variation and show the maximum stress, minimum stress, mean stress, alternating stress (or stress amplitude), stress range and stress ratio.
FATkn5List a common source of harmful tensile residual stress in your company products.
FATkn6List ways of inducing beneficial compressive stresses in your company products.
FATkn7Sketch a fatigue diagram, showing the Modified Goodman, Gerber, Soderberg and Langer/Yield lines.
FATkn8Sketch typical welds, highlighting features detrimental to fatigue performance.
FATkn11Define the terms Nominal stress, Notch stress, Equivalent stress and Weld-Throat stress.
FATco1Discuss the initiation, propagation and fast fracture stages of Fatigue in metallic materials.
FATco2Describe how the data used to construct an S-N curve are obtained.
FATco3Discuss the term high cycle fatigue, highlighting a common source in your company products.
FATco4Discuss the statistical nature of fatigue and explain how this is handled in relevant design standards and codes of practice.
FATco5Discuss the salient features of an S-N diagram for steels and explain the terms endurance limit, infinite life and low cycle fatigue.
FATco6Discuss the typical appearance of a fatigue failure surface in a metallic component and explain how the source of the fatigue failure is commonly identified.
FATco7Discuss the observed relationship between endurance limit and static tensile strength for steels and explain why this relationship does not hold for welded steels.
FATco8Discuss the philosophy of Safe Life Design.
FATco9Explain the term Damage Tolerant Design.
FATco10Contrast the Stress-Life and Strain Life / Manson-Coffin approaches to fatigue assessment.
FATco11Explain the use of Endurance Limit Modifying Factors in Stress-Life based fatigue assessment.
FATco13Discuss the effects of corrosion on fatigue life and highlight how this is typically handled in relevant standards and codes of practice.
FATco14Discuss the term Fatigue Strength Reduction Factor in relation to stress concentrations and explain how this has traditionally been handled in relevant design standards and codes of practice.
FATco15Discuss the concept of cumulative damage and explain how this is commonly handled.
FATco16Explain why a multiaxial stress field can complicate an analysis and discuss approaches to handling this.
FATco17Discuss the significance of the choice of equivalent stress used in the fatigue assessment of welded joints
FATco18Outline a conservative approach to situations where the directions of principal stresses vary during a stress cycle.
FATco21Discuss why weld toe grinding can be beneficial and explain how a design standards and codes of practice will typically allow for this improvement.
FATco25Reflect on why fatigue is such a long-standing and persistent cause of failure.
FATco26Discuss the nature of and typical locations for, stress singularities in a finite element model and explain how they would typically be handled in a fatigue analysis.
FATco27Describe the approximations inherent in a plate/ shell idealisation of welded joints and how these could influence fatigue assessment.
FATco28Discuss the term Effective Notch Stress and Nominal Stress.
FATco29Explain how a Cyclic Stress-Strain Curve is constructed and used.
FATco30Explain Neuber's Rule and its limitations and why corrections to the elastic strain range from an elastic analysis may be necessary.
FATco31Discuss the term Local Plastic Strain Amplification Coefficient and Elastic Follow-Up.
FATco33Explain why corrections for mean strain are often unnecessary for low cycle fatigue.
FATco35Discuss the term endurance limit for many non-ferrous metals, steels in a corrosive environment and the possible effects of load sequencing.
FATco37Reflect on how variable amplitude load sequencing can affect the prediction of damage accumulation and fatigue life.
FATap1Employ a fatigue diagram, consisting of Modified Goodman and Langer lines, to assess fatigue performance of components.
FATap2Carry out elastic fatigue assessment using design standards and code guidelines for components and structures including any special procedures for ancillary components such as bolts,
FATap5Use Reservoir Counting / Rainflow Method or similar to specify the necessary stress ranges, number of cycles and loading history for any component to be analysed.
FATap6Employ a finite element analysis system for the fatigue analysis of a component or structure.
FATap7Use hot spot stress techniques (extrapolation and/ or linearization) to determine structural stresses for fatigue assessment.
FATsy1Prepare a fatigue analysis specification, highlighting any assumptions relating to geometry, loads, boundary conditions and material properties.
FATsy2Plan a fatigue analysis, specifying necessary resources and timescale.
FATsy3Prepare quality assurance procedures for fatigue analysis activities within an organisation.
FATsy4Specify whether a Fracture Mechanics approach is more appropriate.
FATev1Assess the significance of neglecting any feature or detail in any idealisation being used for fatigue assessment.
FATev2Assess the fatigue significance of simplifying geometry, material models, loads or boundary conditions.
FAFMkn1Give an overview of the historical development of fracture mechanics
FAFMkn2Summarise the scope of fracture mechanics for the different types of cracks and material situations
FAFMkn3Define stress intensity factor and state the relationships between G and KI, KII and KIII for plane stress and plane strain crack tip conditions
FAFMco1Explain the Griffith criterion and the significance of the toughness parameter Gc
FAFMco3Identify the key field variables (displacement, strain, stress and principal stress) relevant to a general 3D crack profile and sketch their components.
FAFMco6Describe the significance of the strain energy release rate G
FAFMco8Describe a range of solutions to the more common geometrical configurations in both 2D and 3D, the latter having both straight, elliptical and circular crack profiles
FAFMco9Explain how a pre-existing crack propagates in a new loading field that exhibits both mode I and II behaviour at the crack tip, and discuss FE techniques useful for predicting the new crack propagation direction
FAFMco10Discuss the main components required of a FE model to represent the main features of a cracked structure, to include the discrete crack geometry, material properties and mechanical/thermal loads
FAFMco11Describe, from the results of a FE analysis, how it is possible to calculate K and/or G at any position along a crack profile; explain the difference between substitution and energy methods
FAFMco12Describe how the following energy methods work, their applicability, and limitations: the potential energy difference technique, the virtual crack extension method, J-integral (both as line and domain integrals), and crack closure work
FAFMco13Describe how special finite elements are use to represent the crack tip singularity and the availability in user's FE software
FAFMco15Describe the mechanism of plasticity in the context of its existence around a crack tip
FAFMco21Describe how cracks grow under fatigue conditions and the factors that affect this growth
FAFMco22Explain why there is a tendency for fatigue crack growth to be under LEFM conditions, the relevance of stress intensity factor; and the Paris law to describe growth rates
FAFMco23Describe how FE analysis can be used to calculate both the growing crack length and direction change from an initially cracked geometry under mixed mode conditions
FAFMap1Determine the meshing requirements for any FM approach being employed.
FAFMap2Employ an analysis system effectively for LEFM and use the Westergaard Equations (displacement or stress) to determine Stress Intensity Factors in components.
FAFMap6Use documented solutions for standard stress intensity factors to check FEA results or to benchmark FEA procedures.
BMPSap2Employ appropriate techniques to retrieve hot-spot and other stress quantities for the assessment of welds.
MASco8Explain, in metallurgical terms, how fatigue cracks form and grow in metallic materials.
MASco11Discuss the terms elastic-perfectly plastic, kinematic hardening, isotropic hardening, Bauschinger effect, hysteresis loop.
MASco19Discuss common material characteristics and typical manufacturing related flaws in welding.
MASco20Discuss common material characteristics and typical manufacturing related flaws in hot and cold rolled plate and tubes.
MASco21Discuss common material characteristics and typical manufacturing related flaws in forgings.
MASco22Discuss common material characteristics and typical manufacturing related flaws in castings.
MASap2Determine whether any allowance needs to be made to the material data for the effects of environment and variability.
PLASco33Explain Neuber's Rule.


Event Type eLearning
Member Price £317.99 | $395.00 | €375.30
Non-member Price £487.04 | $605.00 | €574.83
Tutor: Tony Abbey


Start Date End Date Location

Session Times



Fatigue & Fracture Mechanics in FEA


Five-Session Online Training Course

2.5/3 hours per session
PDH Credits - 12.5

Attend the live sessions, or view the recordings at your convenience.

Not Available to Attend this Time?

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Please click here to view the FAQ section, or if you need to contact NAFEMS about this course.

Engineering Board PDH Credits

*It is your individual responsibility to check whether these e-learning courses satisfy the criteria set-out by your state engineering board. NAFEMS does not guarantee that your individual board will accept these courses for PDH credit, but we believe that the courses comply with regulations in most US states (except Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and New York, where providors are required to be pre-approved)

Special Note(s):

Telephony surcharges may apply for attendees who are located outside of North America, South America and Europe. These surcharges are related to individuals who join the audio portion of the web-meeting by calling in to the provided toll/toll-free teleconferencing lines. We have made a VoIP option available so anyone attending the class can join using a headset (headphones) connected to the computer. There is no associated surcharge to utilize the VoIP option, and is actually encouraged to ensure NAFEMS is able to keep the e-Learning course fees as low as possible. Please send an email to the e-Learning coordinator (e-learning @ ) to determine if these surcharges may apply to your specific case.

Just as with a live face-to-face training course, each registration only covers one person. If you plan to register a large group (10+), please send an email to e-learning @ in advance for group discounts.

For NAFEMS cancellation and transfer policy, click here.