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# Stress Concentrations

INTRODUCTION ...........................................................................................................................3
Stress Concentration General Information....................................................................................3
CONTROLLING STRESS CONCENTRATIONS.........................................................................6
GEOMETRIC STRESS CONCENTRATION FACTORS .............................................................9
Sheet and Plate.................................................................................................................................9

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Stress Concentrations

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations
Introduction
This section presents information on stress concentrations and provides qualitative assistance
to the designer in selecting design details that will result in optimum life and static strength.
No technique is included to calculate fatigue life, but approximate methods are presented to
calculate the effect on static strength. If a structure is subjected to fatigue loads, use the
following guidelines.
Stress Concentration General Information
This section contains stress concentration factors kt for several common geometric shapes. kt is
defined as the ratio of the peak elastic stress to a reference stress, usually the maximum local
stress that would exist without the specified stress concentration. The factors are independent
of material in that their derivation assumes that the material is infinitely elastic, making the
factors independent of modulus of elasticity. However, the significance of the stress
concentration factors to a particular structure does depend on the material characteristics.
The factors are especially important to static strength of structure made from materials that
have little or no ductility, as is common with ceramics and other brittle materials. Static
strength of structures made from highly ductile materials are less affected by stress
concentrations because yielding and plastic flow, in the zone of stress concentration, delay
rupture until the strain in the area of peak stress reaches the ultimate elongation for the material.
For highly ductile materials, the net area stresses outside the zone of peak strain approach
ultimate before rupture is initiated. However, the magnitude of stress concentration coupled
with the operating stresses (load intensities) is probably the most important single factor
determining service life for a given material.
The methods presented here for dealing with structural details that cause stress concentrations
minimize the concentration factors and promote the use of improved design details.
Methods for predicting the effect of stress concentration on static strength and for selecting
materials for members that are critical for static strength are also presented.
NOTE:

Before calculating stress concentration factors, calculate the stress based on the net
area. If the value exceeds the ultimate stress for the material, failure would be
unavoidable, and no further calculation for stress concentration is needed.

Stress and strain concentrations are increased in local stress and strain in a member. They
result from irregularities or discontinuities in the geometry of the member. Frequently
encountered discontinuities include notches, holes, threads, keyways, grooves, and scratches.
See Figure 1.

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Stress Concentrations

Hole in
plate

Notch in plate
Profiled keyway
Semicircular
groove

Filleted
bar
Weld

Shoulder
fillet
Hole in
solid rod

Profiled hole
in tube

## Figure 1. Examples of Geometric Discontinuities

Several distinctly different stress concentration factors can be employed, and the differences
must be clearly identified. Significant differences relate to load intensity, load type (static or
cyclic), member material geometry, notch geometry, and method of analysis. The most
commonly used is kt, where:
kt =

f max
f nom

(See Figure 2)

Actual stress
distribution at
notched
section.

D M

Computed from
bending
formula
Mc
fmax =
I
C
M

fmax h
kin

fmax
fmax

## Figure 2. Stress concentration Induced by a Notch

The subscript t indicates theoretical because it relates to linear elastic behavior only and is
therefore independent of specific material characteristics and is usually derived analytically.
However, it can also be determined by various test methods in the elastic range.

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations
The nominal stress can be defined using either the gross cross sectional area or the net cross
sectional area of a notched specimen. Stress concentration factor kt is designated as being
based on gross or net area by adding the subscript g or n, as ktg or ktn.
Note that ktg accounts for two effects: (1) increased stress from loss of cross sectional area and
(2) increased stress from geometry. ktn accounts for only one effect, increased stress from
geometry.
In contrast, stress concentration factors kr and kf signify rupture and fatigue, respectively, and
always relate to specified materials and are usually determined by test.
The kt values for several geometries with various types of discontinuities are presented in 3.
Other geometries are readily available in handbooks and structures manuals.
NOTE:

## Caution is advised in obtaining kt from reference sources. A net or gross kt as

defined above must be specified clearly in the reference and used consistently
throughout the analysis.

The effects of stress concentrations on ductile materials subjected to static loading and uniaxial
stresses are small. If a part is subjected to shock, vibration, or large temperature variations, a
ductile material may need to be treated as a brittle material for analysis purposes.
The effects of stress concentration on ductile or brittle materials subjected to alternating loads
are of great importance since cracks usually originate at the point of the stress concentration.
The combination of stress concentration and alternating loads is the main cause of fatigue
failure.
When the load on a structure is such that the stresses are in the plastic region, the stress
concentration has a lesser effect on the peak stress. Plastic yielding has the effect of relieving
the stress concentration. The relief in the stress concentration for a given material is seen by
comparing kr to kt for a specific notch. The factor kr, called the stress concentration at rupture,
is used to define the reduction in static strength for a specimen with a given notch.
Mathematically, it is the ratio of the stress at rupture for a plain specimen to the stress at
rupture for a notched specimen, and is expressed by the following equation:
kr =

f plain
f notched

Where
f plain =

P1
WT

f notched =

P2
WT

and, P1 and P2 are test ultimate loads for the plain and notched specimens, respectively.
Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Stress Concentrations
Controlling Stress Concentrations
Control of stress concentrations or their effects can usually be accomplished by the following
general methods.

Design the parts to eliminate or minimize the stress concentration factors or restrict them
to lightly stressed areas.
If the stress concentration factor cannot be adequately reduced in the design, add
sufficient material to reduce the nominal stresses and overcome the problem of stress
concentration.
If the approach in the preceding item is not possible, selective removal of material might
be an acceptable alternative. Examples g, h, and i in the following list illustrate
techniques to control stress concentrations by removing material. Note that these
examples reflect parts that appear to be heavier than parts designed for adequate strength
per the two preceding items.
Avoid multiple stress concentrations at a single location because the stress concentration
factor for this location will be the product of the individual stress concentration factors.
When stress concentrations are unavoidable, they should be separated.

The following list presents more specific methods and examples of techniques for controlling
stress concentrations.
a. Position material grain direction parallel to the applied load direction whenever possible.
b. Locate all holes in lowstressed regions. Whenever feasible, bush holes if wear could cause
enlargement.
c. Steel stamping of part numbers should be called out on areas of low stress or on raised
bosses. See BAC5307 for additional information. Consult process specifications for
materials with high notch sensitivity, where steel stamping is not allowed.
d. Use highquality surface finishes for highly stressed members.
e. Shotpeen parts made from ductile material such as aluminum, steel, or titanium to
increase resistance to stress corrosion cracking and improve fatigue life.
f. Avoid knife edges; they cause high stress concentration and are susceptible to additional
nicks and cracks. Examples are overlapping spot faces and countersunk thin sheets. The
depth of countersink should not exceed twothirds of the sheet thickness.
root. See Figure 3.

relief

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations
h. Use generous fillet radii or faired lines to avoid abrupt changes in member sections. See
Figure 4.

## Figure 4. Relief for Change in Section

i. Reduce the stress concentration at B by removing material at locations A. See Figure 5.

## Figure 5. Adding Grooves to Reduce Stress Concentrations

j. Relieve the stress concentration at B, the smallradius shoulder, by adding a groove at A.
See Figure 6.

## Figure 6. Adding a Groove to Relieve Stress Concentrations

k. When a shoulder stop is required for another member with a small corner radius, add a
sunken fillet to provide a larger radius at the shoulder. See Figure 7.

## Figure 7. Sunken relief for a Shoulder Stop

l. Avoid sharpcornered discontinuities or notches in a part subjected to repeated loading.
Use a large radius faired into the contour. Use durability methods to determine the life of a
member subjected to repeated loading cycles. The type of surface irregularities, material,
and notch sensitivity must also be considered in determining a suitable configuration. See
Figure 8.
Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Stress Concentrations

## Figure 8. Large Radius Faired into the Contour

m. In some instances, application of a proof load can reduce the maximum stresses resulting
from stress concentrations and increase fatigue life. The approach is applicable to
structures that are loaded primarily in tension, such as pressure vessels. In the case of a
pressure vessel, the mechanics involved consist of applying a proof pressure somewhat
above the maximum expected operating pressure and sufficient to exceed the tensile yield
stress in the areas of maximum stress concentrations, resulting in decreased maximum
tension stresses during subsequent pressure cycles. With appropriate material
characterization and analyses, the technique can also be used to establish the minimum
number of pressure cycles remaining prior to failure. However, for more complex
structures, the process may be selfdefeating because yielding in areas of compression
stresses will lock in tension stresses, and this may reduce rather than increase the fatigue
life. Anyone considering the technique is advised to consult specialists experienced in
fatigue and fracture mechanics.
n. Always control locations of machining mismatches and avoid sharp edges.
o. Avoid eccentricities where cross sections vary or where load directions change.
p. Avoid threaded or tapped holes.
q. Minimize the number of joints and splices, and locate them in lowstress areas whenever
possible.
r. Avoid open or unfilled holes; fill tool holes, and reinforce holes for system provisions or
drainage.
s. Whenever feasible in tension applications, coldwork a hole to reduce the peak stress that
results from the stress concentration effect of the hole.
t. When a change in the cross section occurs, provide a gentle taper for the transition.
u. Avoid materials sensitive to stress corrosion cracking where high stress concentration or
residual stresses exist. Stress corrosion cracking is primarily a function of the highest
sustained tensile stress. The combination of a high stress concentration in a material
sensitive to stress corrosion cracking could result in fracture of the member at low nominal
stresses.
NOTE:

15-8

Even when designing with ductile materials, employ details that tend to
minimize the stress concentration factor, and, most importantly, avoid details
that place two or more stress concentrations at the same location. When two or
more stress concentrations coincide, each pair of factors multiplies. Major
cracks can develop at a fraction of the limit load, and failure can occur at
fewer than a half dozen cycles of the load that developed the crack.

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations
Inferior design is indicated if any stress concentration factor significantly reduces the static
strength or fatigue life and requires significant increase to the weight of the member to sustain
Local increases in stress caused by kt severely limit the load capability of structural
components and can lead to premature failure. Such designs usually result in added excessive
material when detailed for fatigue life. The actual structure is seldom exactly represented by
the discontinuities represented in the analysis, and exact stress concentration factors are
difficult to obtain. The difference between the calculated and actual stress concentration
factors is more significant at higher stress levels and stress concentration factors. Therefore,
design improvement action should be considered if the stress concentration factor approaches
four or more. Even with lower stress concentration factors, designs that reduce the stress
concentrations are desirable.
For areas of high stresses, the designer should consider detailed finiteelement analysis to
obtain the most accurate predictions of maximum stress.
Geometric Stress Concentration Factors
Data in Figure 31 through Figure 341 provide numerical values of the stress concentration
factor kt for a variety of common geometric discontinuities. Additional information and cases
can be found in the book Stress Concentration Factors, by R. E. Peterson. For geometries
and loadings not explicitly covered in available references, consider using appropriate detailed
finite element analysis.
The kt factor is given based on either the nominal stress for the gross area, ktg, or the nominal
stress for the net area, ktn. The gross area is the cross sectional area that would exist at the
location of the stress concentration if the material for the stress concentration were not
removed. The net area is the actual cross sectional area that exists at the location of the stress
concentration.
For two discontinuities that are superimposed, it is generally conservative to use the product of
the individual stress concentration factors. Note that this can be overly conservative in some
cases and may warrant a more accurate analysis, particularly if the stress concentrations peak
at different locations.
Round holes, either singly or in multiple arrays with various patterns, are a primary source of
stress concentrations. Therefore, several charts are presented in 3.1 to support joint analysis
considering round holes in various patterns in sheets and plates.
Sheet and Plate
Figure 31 through Figure 326 provides stress concentration factors for various cases of
plates with holes, notches, and steps. Geometric features shown by sketch or equation at an
unspecified distance from the edge are assumed to be in the center of an infinite sheet or plate,
which in practical terms is equivalent to 10 or more hole diameters. Proximity to an edge
results in further increases in the stress concentration.

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Figure 3-1. Plate with Single Row of Circular Holes, Uniaxial Tension

Figure 3-2. Plate with Single Row of Circular Holes, Biaxial Tension

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations

## Figure 3-3. Plate with Circular Hole, Uniaxial Tension

Figure 3-4. Plate with Single Row of Circular Holes, Uniaxial Tension

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Figure 3-5. Plate with Two Unequal Circular Holes, Transverse Uniaxial Tension

Figure 3-6. Plate with Two Unequal Circular Holes, Oblique Uniaxial Tension

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations

## Figure 3-7. Plate with Unequal Circular Holes, Shear

Figure 3-8. Plate with Double Row of Staggered Circular Holes, Uniaxial Tension

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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7

d
tgk

f ref

f peak = k tg f ref
(Ref stress is gross area stress.)

3
0.0

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.5

0.6

0.7

d/W
Figure 3-9. Plate with Central Circular Hole, Uniaxial Tension

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations

Figure 3-10. Plate with Central Symmetrically Padded Circular Hole, Uniaxial Tension

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Figure 3-12. Plate with Central Symmetrically Padded Circular Hole, Shear

Figure 3-13. Plate with Central Circular Hole, Bending About Shallow Axis

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations

Figure 3-14. Plate with Central Circular Hole, Bending About Deep Axis

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
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11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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Figure 3-20. Plate with Unsymmetrical Edge Notch, Bending or Tension Influence of
Shoulder Slope

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

Stress Concentrations

Mike Mohaghegh
11/26/2008

## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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## Figure 3-24. Plate with Symmetrical Edge Notches, Bending

Figure 3-25. Plate with Symmetrical Edge Notches, Combined Shear and Bending

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## Design and Analysis of Aircraft Structures

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11/26/2008

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