Experimentally observed crack deflection events in multi-layered material systems, occurring even under pure mode-I loading, are here simulated and explained through elasto-plastic finite element modelling. The crack tip opening displacement is adopted as the crack driving force and estimated along crack paths whose deflection is predicted using the maximum tangential strain criterion. Shielding conditions that promote deflection and bifurcation are evaluated. It is shown that, under conditions of extended plasticity, CTOD evolution as a crack approaches an interface can reveal crack shielding and amplification, and that crack deflection and growth can be assessed from the variation of tangential strains around the crack tip
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