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Master Thesis: Stress Intensity Factor Calculation by the Application of Inverse Forces on the Crack Faces

Aircraft engines are influenced by different environmental circumstances. The occurrence of Foreign Object Damage in airfoils is unavoidable during operation. To take this into account a damage tolerant design is necessary. Part of the substantiation of damage tolerance are 3D crack propagation analyzes. At MTU this is done by a finite element method based in-house tool called Cracktracer3D.   

Cracktracer3D consists of a preprocessor inserting the actual crack shape into a mesh of the un-cracked component and a postprocessor using the results of a finite element calculation of the cracked component in order to determine a crack propagation increment. Right now, all loadings are applied to the complete cracked geometry. An alternative method consists of applying the inverse of the crack face loads obtained from a calculation of the un-cracked structure and limiting the domain of computation to a region immediately surrounding the crack. This drastically reduces the work required to apply the actual loading and speeds up the calculation due to the smaller computational domain. The method has been proven to work in several applications published in the literature.


The work includes the following items: 

  • Getting acquainted with Cracktracer3D (code level)
  • Analyzing the newly proposed method (literature)
  • Implementing the method in the preprocessor of Cracktracer3D
  • Applying the method to simple examples and to complex engine components; evaluating the accuracy of the method and the computational gain


  • Student in the field of engineering, mathematics, physics or any related field
  • Experience with the finite element method
  • Knowledge in mechanics, especially fracture mechanics
  • Programming experience in FORTRAN, C, C++, Python or related languages
  • Willing to get familiar with an existing code (C and FORTRAN)
  • Good knowledge of technical English
  • High level of personal initiative and structured way of working


  • Insights into practical work in aviation as an innovative, high-tech industry
  • Exciting jobs that carry responsibility and are performed in an atmosphere of team spirit
  • A personally assigned contact and individual support services
  • Flexible working hours and compensatory time off
  • Networking opportunities


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