In this study the finite element method is used to analyze the effect of presence of micro-crack near a main crack on the variation of the shape and the size of the plastic zone ahead of the main crack for small scale plasticity in aluminium alloy 2024 T3. The effects of the horizontal and the vertical distances between the two cracks on the plastic zone are analyzed. The effect of micro-crack inclination is also highlighted. The obtained results show that the presence of the micro-crack can provoke the division of the plastic zone ahead of the main crack in two parts. It is also shown that the effect of the micro-crack disappears when the relative distance between the two cracks exceeds 10%. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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