Road Loads to Block Cycle Schedule

Road load signals are notoriously difficult to work with. The signals feature so many different time increments that it becomes too much to directly model efficiently in FEA. It is difficult to tell which portions of the loading do the most damage. Experimental fatigue testing would be too time-consuming and costly to run on the full complex road load signal. For these reasons simplifying road loads into block cycle schedules has become the gold standard for working with road load signals. Experimental testing and FEA modeling are more manageable when using a block cycle schedule instead of the full road load signal. Traditional methods of converting a road load signal to block cycle schedule can often fall short. Endurica recently added a built-in method in the Endurica CL software that uses the power of critical plane analysis and rain-flow counting to automate block cycle creation.

Let us dive into the process of block cycle creation using an example of a bushing and a road load history. The road loading history shown below contains results for loadings in 3 axes over a time history.

The first step in creating the block cycle schedule is solving for the strain history over the entire road load history. Fortunately, Endurica EIE comes to the rescue in solving for the long strain history. The road load time history does not need to be modeled directly in FEA. Instead, a map is run in FEA to solve for strain history within the bounds of the road loading. Endurica EIE quickly interpolates the strains from this map to create the full loading strain history. In the animation below the map points solved for in FEA are shown as black dots and the bushing traces out the path of the map.

After the full road load strain history has been solved for in EIE the fatigue life for the road load signal is ready to be analyzed in CL. The fatigue analysis of the entire road load signal gives valuable insight into finding the critical location, developing the block cycle, and allowing the fatigue life of the block schedule to be validated against the fatigue life of the road load. The critical location of the bushing is shown in the image below:

At the bushing critical location, all damaging events on the critical plane are taken into account when creating the block cycle schedule. The events are grouped into different bins categorized by two parameters: the peak CED and R ratio. The analyst remains in control by selecting the number of bins to group into. Each of the bins contains events with similar peak CED and R ratio that falls within the bounds of the bin. Within each bin, a representative cycle is identified that when repeated in the block schedule will contribute at least as much damage as all the various events in the bin. This selection process produces a conservative result that ensures that the block cycle will be at least as damaging as the road load.

The bin results from the original history show the number of times each bin is repeated and the total damage from each bin. At this point, the bins that contribute insignificant damage can be safely eliminated from the block cycle schedule to save testing time and complexity without changing the results.


The simplified block schedule is then modeled to check the fatigue life vs the full road load signal. The results show that the critical location and fatigue life has been accurately maintained in the block schedule.

This automated block cycle creation procedure succeeded in producing a block cycle with the same critical location and very similar fatigue life. The block cycle selection was able to re-create the full road load signal using only three different loading blocks.

Endurica CL automated block cycle creation lets you take the guesswork out of block cycle creation and harness the proven power of Endurica fatigue analysis technology to get durability right.


Proper tear testing of elastomers: Why you should tear up the Die C tear test

I spent an interesting and rewarding part of my career helping to lead an elastomer technical college in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia. One of the rubber technology words that was challenging for the Saudis to say in English was ‘tear’. They initially pronounced it like the heteronym related to crying. It might be a stretch to say that tears will come to your eyes if you don’t get tear testing of elastomers right, but proper measurement of critical tearing energy (tear strength) is essential for effective materials development for durability.

The fatigue threshold (intrinsic strength; T0) is the lower limit of the fatigue crack growth curve shown in the figure below, and we recently reviewed this material parameter including the various measurement options.1 The upper limit is the tear strength, TC. If loads in your elastomer component are near or above TC, then it is not a fatigue problem anymore but rather a critical tearing issue with imminent product failure. It is therefore important to accurately characterize this durability performance characteristic of your materials.

Endurica uses the planar tension (pure shear) geometry for measuring TC in our Fatigue Property Mapping testing services due to the simple relationship between the strain energy density (W) and the energy release rate (tearing energy, T).2,3 The TC is equal to the W at tearing multiplied by the initial specimen height, h. You can see this geometry below along with other tear testing specimens employed in the rubber industry and specified in the ASTM standard.4

We sometimes get questions from folks with technical backgrounds in metals or plastics about whether rubber tear properties will be different when tested in distinct testing modes (mode I, mode II, etc.). It turns out that the extensibility of rubber causes the deformation to be predominately tension in the tearing region, irrespective of how the crack is opened, such that TC values are similar for rubber evaluated in different testing modes.2,3 Therefore, trouser tear testing is an alternative to the planar tension testing, as long as any stretching of the legs is accounted for in the data analysis.3,5 With no stretching of the legs, TC is simply given by 2F/t where F is the measured force to propagate the tear and t is the thickness of the specimen. The factor of 2 is surprisingly omitted in the ASTM standard4 even though it is mentioned in the appendix. The image below shows how to convert the ASTM trouser tear strength to TC.

A proper tear test includes an initial macroscopic cut/crack in the specimen. This is not the case for Die C tear described in the tear testing standard.4 Die C is thus not a tear test at all but rather is a crack nucleation experiment akin to normal tensile testing of rubber. Because the strange Die C geometry forces failure in a small region in the center of the specimen, it is actually less useful than tensile strength testing of a dumbbell sample which probes the entire gauge region. The Die C test can also have substantial experimental variability related to the sharpness of the die used to punch out the samples. Unfortunately, the Die C “tear” test is the most popular method in the rubber industry to (incorrectly) assess the tear strength of elastomers, and this reality was a key motivator for writing this post. We look forward to seeing the rubber industry shift away from the Die C test, and we hope that the information provided here will help in that path to #GetDurabilityRight.


  1. Robertson, C.G.; Stoček, R.; Mars, W.V. The Fatigue Threshold of Rubber and its Characterization Using the Cutting Method. Advances in Polymer Science, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2020, pp. 1-27.
  2. Lake, G.J. Fatigue and Fracture of Elastomers. Rubber Chem. Technol. 1995, 68, 435-460.
  3. Rivlin, R.S.; Thomas, A.G. Rupture of rubber. I. Characteristic energy for tearing. J. Polym. Sci. 1953, 10, 291–318.
  4. Standard Test Method for Tear Strength of Conventional Vulcanized Rubber and Thermoplastic Elastomers. Designation: ASTM D 624-00, ASTM International, West Conshohocken, PA, USA, 2020; pp. 1-9.
  5. Mars, W.V.; Fatemi, A. A literature survey on fatigue analysis approaches for rubber. Int. J. Fatigue 2002, 24, 949–961.

Things that went right in 2020 at Endurica

2020 is burned in all our minds as a chaotic and tough year.  Just like the rest of the world, Endurica staff experienced times of isolation and loss due to the pandemic.  On a positive note, we invested heavily in making our tools and workflows better than ever so that we’re ready to come back strong in 2021.  Here is a list of our top new developments in 2020:

Endurica Software Enhancements

  • Endurica DT’s new Ageing Feature now enables you to simulate how ageing affects your rubber product. Your compound’s stiffness, strength, and fatigue properties can all evolve with time.
  • Our new Linux distribution takes our solutions beyond the Windows world.
  • We’ve added an encryption feature to safeguard your trade secrets.
  • Viewer Improvements make it easier than ever to visualize your fatigue simulation results.
  • EIE Enhancements give you blazing-fast compute speed for full road-load signals.
  • We’ve also planned an aggressive development agenda for 2021. Stay tuned for a new Endurica-based smartphone app for materials engineers, for a new feature that computes fatigue threshold safety margins, for a new block cycle schedule extraction algorithm, and more!


  • The new Fatigue Ninja Friday webinar series provides step-by-step application training for key the workflows that you need to get durability right. All of the recorded episodes are now available in the online Endurica academy.
  • The new Winning on Durability webinar series provides high-level overviews of both technical and business topics so you can connect Endurica tools to your strategic imperatives. All of these recorded webinars are available gratis on our website.
  • We’ve recast our in-person training events as LIVE, ONLINE workshops accessible safely around the world.

Testing Instruments

Fatigue Property Mapping Testing Service

  • We added the Reliability Module to our Fatigue Property Mapping testing service. Use it to quantify crack precursor size statistics when you need to estimate probability of failure.
  • We also reorganized the Thermal Module and the Ageing Module into Basic and Advanced levels, to offer a lower price-point when a basic option will suffice.

Want to leverage any of these new capabilities in your next durability project?  Give us a call and let’s talk!


Does hydrostatic loading cause fatigue damage in rubber?

A question was recently put to us regarding the effects of cyclic hydrostatic loading on rubber.  In hydrostatic loading, no shearing stresses are present, and the 3 principal stresses all have the same value p.  For this case, all 3 Mohr’s circles degenerate to a single point on the normal stress axis.

Figure 1. Mohr’s circles degenerate to single point for the case of compressive hydrostatic pressure.

Under dynamic hydrostatic loading, the point may move along the normal stress axis in either of the tensile (p>0) or compressive directions (p<0).  When we have pure hydrostatic compression, cracks in all orientations are closed with a tearing energy of zero.  We expect infinite fatigue life in this case.  On the other hand, when we have hydrostatic tension, growth of a crack will release energy, and so the tearing energy is positive. We then expect crack growth to occur at a rate determined by the tearing energy.  Endurica estimates tearing energy T via the following rule:

in which a is the size of the crack, and Wc is the cracking energy density. For a slightly compressible material under hydrostatic loading, the cracking energy density calculation becomes

and, remembering that for volumetric deformation, the linear strain is 1/3 of the volumetric dilatation, we finally obtain

where W is the dilatational strain energy density.


So let’s compute an example using the following material definition:

Let’s compute 8 different fully relaxing hydrostatic loading cases: 4 in hydrostatic compression, 4 in hydrostatic tension.  We’ll take these loaded extreme strain levels: -10%, -5%, -2%, -1%, 1%, 2%, 5%, 10%, which correspond to extreme dilatations of -27%, -14%, -6%, -3%, 3%, 6%, 16%, 33%.

As a first check, we plot the hydrostatic pressures computed for each case.  The slope of the line is 3000 MPa, which agrees with the assigned bulk modulus.

Figure 2. Computed volume strain – hydrostatic pressure relationship.

Next, we compute the strain energy density and the cracking energy density for each case.  As expected, we verify that for p<0, crack closure results in CED=0, and for p>0, CED=SED/3.

Figure 3. Comparison of strain energy density and cracking energy density for hydrostatic compression and tension.

Finally, we compute the fatigue life for each case.  In all cases, we see that the damage sphere is uniform over its entire surface, indicating that all possible crack orientations receive equal damage.  We also see that for cases involving hydrostatic compression, life is essentially infinite.  For cases involving hydrostatic tension, we verify that finite life is predicted, with shorter life at higher hydrostatic tension, as expected.

Figure 4.  Predicted life and damage sphere for compressive and tensile hydrostatic loading.

In summary, we have verified that the Endurica fatigue solver behaves as follows with respect to hydrostatic loading:

  • In hydrostatic compression, no damage accrues, and life is indefinite.
  • In hydrostatic tension, crack growth is predicted, with shorter fatigue life for higher values of tension. The cracking energy density is 1/3 of the strain energy density for hydrostatic tension.
  • For all hydrostatic cases, there is no single preferred critical plane. Rather, all planes show equal potential for crack development.

Is It Validated?

“Is it validated?” – that’s often the first question we hear after introducing our durability simulation capabilities. And for good reason, given the weight that hangs on the hinge of product durability. Endurica takes verification and validation (V&V) very seriously. Let’s look at what that means.

First, it means that our tools are built on well-known, well-established foundations.  These foundations include 1) definition of material / crack behavior via fracture mechanics (Rivlin and Thomas, 1953), 2) integration of the crack growth rate law to predict fatigue life (Gent, Lindley and Thomas, 1964), 3) the fact that crack precursors occur naturally in all locations and all orientations in a rubber sample (Choi and Roland 1996, Huneau et al 2016), 4) hyperelastic stress-strain laws compatible with commercial FEA codes (see Muhr 2005 for an excellent review), and 5) rubber’s fatigue threshold (Lake and Thomas 1967).  The validation case thus begins with the cumulative authority of thousands of reports that have confirmed these classical results over nearly 70 years.

Critical plane analysis for rubber has now been around for 20+ years, and it has been validated in multiple ways (material level, component level, system level), across multiple experimental programs (industrial and academic), by multiple independent research groups working on multiple applications (see Google/scholar, for example).  It has been validated that: 1) it correctly predicts crack plane orientation under uniaxial, proportional and nonproportional loadings (Harbour et al 2008), 2) it correctly predicts fatigue life across different modes of deformation (Mars 2002), 3) it correctly accounts for the effects of crack closure (Mars 2002), 4) it correctly predicts the development of off-axis cracks for nonrelaxing cycles in strain-crystallizing materials (Ramachandran 2017), 5) it correctly predicts the effects of finite straining on crack orientation (Mars and Fatemi 2006).

The literature is full of old experiments that we have used as validation targets.  We have validated Endurica’s strain crystallization models by simulating experimental results published by Cadwell et al (1940) and by Fielding et al (1943).  We have validated the ability to predict deformation mode effects by simulating experimental results for simple and biaxial tension published by Roberts and Benzies (1977).  We have validated Endurica’s temperature dependence against measurements reported by Lake and Lindley (1964).  We have validated against multiaxial fatigue experiments reported by Saintier, Cailletaud and Piques (2006).

We’ve done our own validation experiments.  My PhD dissertation (University of Toledo, 2001) contains an extensive database of tension/torsion/compression fatigue tests against which our critical plane algorithms were validated.  Two additional PhD dissertations that I co-advised generated additional validations.  Dr. Malik Ait Bachir’s thesis (2010) validated mathematically that the scaling law we use for small cracks is valid across all multiaxial loading states.  Dr. Ryan Harbour’s thesis (2006) contains a database of multiaxial, variable amplitude fatigue experiments against which our rainflow and damage accumulation procedures were extensively validated.

Validation from partners.  We partner with several testing labs.  We have invested in testing protocols that produce clean, accurate data and we have run validation programs with our partners to verify the effectiveness of our testing protocols.  We’ve demonstrated significant improvements to test efficiency and reproducibility (Goosens and Mars 2018) and (Mars and Isasi 2019).  We’ve validated techniques for estimating precursor size and size distribution (Robertson et al 2020, Li et al 2015).

Validation from users.  Three (3) of the top 12 tire companies and six (6) of the top 10 global non-tire rubber companies now use our solutions.  Most of our users have run internal validation programs to show the effectiveness of our solutions for their applications.  Most of these studies are unpublished, but the fact that our user base has continued growing at ~20%/year for 12 years (as of this year) says something important both about the technical validation case and the business validation case.  Validation studies have been published with the US Army (Mars, Castanier, Ostberg 2017), GM (Barbash and Mars 2016), Tenneco (Goossens et al 2017) and Caterpillar (Ramachandran et al 2017).

Validation from external groups.  There are several academic groups that have independently applied and validated components of our approach.  There are too many to list completely, but a few recent examples include Zarrin-Ghalami et al (2020), Belkhira et al (2020) and Tobajas et al (2020).

Software verification, benchmarking and unit testing.  In addition to the experimental validations mentioned above, each time we build a new version of our software, we execute a series of automated tests.  These tests verify every line of code against expected function, and they ensure that as we add new features, we do not introduce unintended changes.  The benchmarks include tests that verify things like coordinate frame objectivity (rigid rotations under static load should do no damage and the same strain history written in two different coordinate systems should have the same life), and check known results pertaining to material models and cycle counting rules.  You can read more about our software quality processes here.

It is safe to say that no other solution for fatigue life prediction of rubber has been tested and validated against a larger number of applications than Endurica’s.


Aıt-Bachir, M. “Prediction of crack initiation in elastomers in the framework of Configurational Mechanics.” PhD diss., Ph. D. thesis, Ecole Centrale de Nantes, Nantes (France), 2010.

Barbash, Kevin P., and William V. Mars. Critical plane analysis of rubber bushing durability under road loads. No. 2016-01-0393. SAE Technical Paper, 2016.

Belkhiria, Salma, Adel Hamdi, and Raouf Fathallah. “Cracking energy density for rubber materials: Computation and implementation in multiaxial fatigue design.” Polymer Engineering & Science (2020).

Cadwell, S. M., R. A. Merrill, C. M. Sloman, and F. L. Yost. “Dynamic fatigue life of rubber.” Rubber Chemistry and Technology 13, no. 2 (1940): 304-315.

Choi, I. S., and C. M. Roland. “Intrinsic defects and the failure properties of cis-1, 4-polyisoprenes.” Rubber chemistry and technology 69, no. 4 (1996): 591-599.

Fielding, J. H. “Flex life and crystallization of synthetic rubber.” Industrial & Engineering Chemistry 35, no. 12 (1943): 1259-1261.

Goossens, J.R., Mars, W., Smith, G., Heil, P., Braddock, S. and Pilarski, J., 2017. Durability Analysis of 3-Axis Input to Elastomeric Front Lower Control Arm Vertical Ride Bushing (No. 2017-01-1857). SAE Technical Paper.

Goossens, Joshua R., and William V. Mars. “Finitely Scoped, High Reliability Fatigue Crack Growth Measurements.” Rubber Chemistry and Technology 91, no. 4 (2018): 644-650.

Harbour, Ryan Joseph. Multiaxial deformation and fatigue of rubber under variable amplitude loading. Vol. 67, no. 12. 2006.

Harbour, Ryan J., Ali Fatemi, and Will V. Mars. “Fatigue crack orientation in NR and SBR under variable amplitude and multiaxial loading conditions.” Journal of materials science 43, no. 6 (2008): 1783-1794.

Huneau, Bertrand, Isaure Masquelier, Yann Marco, Vincent Le Saux, Simon Noizet, Clémentine Schiel, and Pierre Charrier. “Fatigue crack initiation in a carbon black–filled natural rubber.” Rubber Chemistry and Technology 89, no. 1 (2016): 126-141.

Lake, G. J., and P. B. Lindley. “Cut growth and fatigue of rubbers. II. Experiments on a noncrystallizing rubber.” Journal of Applied Polymer Science 8, no. 2 (1964): 707-721.

Li, Fanzhu, Jinpeng Liu, W. V. Mars, Tung W. Chan, Yonglai Lu, Haibo Yang, and Liqun Zhang. “Crack precursor size for natural rubber inferred from relaxing and non-relaxing fatigue experiments.” International Journal of Fatigue 80 (2015): 50-57.

Mars, William Vernon. Multiaxial fatigue of rubber. 2001.

Mars, Will V. “Cracking energy density as a predictor of fatigue life under multiaxial conditions.” Rubber chemistry and technology 75, no. 1 (2002): 1-17.

Mars, W. V., and A. Fatemi. “Analysis of fatigue life under complex loading: Revisiting Cadwell, Merrill, Sloman, and Yost.” Rubber chemistry and technology 79, no. 4 (2006): 589-601.

Mars, W. V., and A. Fatemi. “Nucleation and growth of small fatigue cracks in filled natural rubber under multiaxial loading.” Journal of materials science 41, no. 22 (2006): 7324-7332.

Mars, W. V. “Computed dependence of rubber’s fatigue behavior on strain crystallization.” Rubber Chemistry and Technology 82, no. 1 (2009): 51-61.

Mars, William V., Matthew Castanier, David Ostberg, and William Bradford. “Digital Twin for Tank Track Elastomers: Predicting Self-Heating and Durability.” In Proceedings of the 2017 Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering and Technology Symposium (GVSETS). 2017.pdf here

Mars, W. V., and M. Isasi. “Finitely scoped procedure for generating fully relaxing strain-life curves.” In Constitutive Models for Rubber XI: Proceedings of the 11th European Conference on Constitutive Models for Rubber (ECCMR 2019), June 25-27, 2019, Nantes, France, p. 435. CRC Press, 2019.

Muhr, A. H. “Modeling the stress-strain behavior of rubber.” Rubber chemistry and technology 78, no. 3 (2005): 391-425.Lake and Thomas 1967

Ramachandran, Anantharaman, Ross P. Wietharn, Sunil I. Mathew, W. V. Mars, and M. A. Bauman. “Critical Plane Selection Under Nonrelaxing Simple Tension with Strain Crystallization.” In Fall 192nd Technical Meeting of the Rubber Division, pp. 10-12. 2017.

Rivlin, R. S., and A. G. Thomas. “Rupture of rubber. I. Characteristic energy for tearing.” Journal of polymer science 10, no. 3 (1953): 291-318.Gent, Lindley and Thomas, 1964

Roberts, B. J., and J. B. Benzies. “The relationship between uniaxial and equibiaxial fatigue in gum and carbon black filled vulcanizates.” Proceedings of rubbercon 77, no. 2 (1977): 1-13.

Robertson, Christopher G., Lewis B. Tunnicliffe, Lawrence Maciag, Mark A. Bauman, Kurt Miller, Charles R. Herd, and William V. Mars. “Characterizing Distributions of Tensile Strength and Crack Precursor Size to Evaluate Filler Dispersion Effects and Reliability of Rubber.” Polymers 12, no. 1 (2020): 203. Pdf here

Saintier, Nicolas, Georges Cailletaud, and Roland Piques. “Multiaxial fatigue life prediction for a natural rubber.” International Journal of Fatigue 28, no. 5-6 (2006): 530-539.

Tobajas, Rafael, Daniel Elduque, Elena Ibarz, Carlos Javierre, and Luis Gracia. “A New Multiparameter Model for Multiaxial Fatigue Life Prediction of Rubber Materials.” Polymers 12, no. 5 (2020): 1194.

Zarrin-Ghalami, Touhid, Sandip Datta, Robert Bodombo Keinti, and Ravish Chandrashekar. Elastomeric Component Fatigue Analysis: Rubber Fatigue Prediction and Correlation Comparing Crack Initiation and Crack Growth Methodologies. No. 2020-01-0193. SAE Technical Paper, 2020.



Keeping Your Secrets

The old saying “loose lips sink ships” is as true in product development as it is in war.  Maybe more so – while warships are heavily armored, intellectual property is never more secure than the least ethical person’s willingness and ability to misappropriate.  And the stakes have never been higher. Simulation software makes it easier than ever to document material properties, geometry, physics and functions of your next product.  So, collaborators can communicate design intentions more easily and more fully than ever before.  The downside?  It’s easier than ever for an adversary (or the next disgruntled employee) to walk out with your crown jewels!

This is why we’ve just implemented an encryption feature in the Endurica fatigue solvers.  Now you can password-protect sensitive information.  You control which information gets encrypted, and which stays as plain text.  You can share material property or load case definitions for use by collaborators without revealing private details in which you are heavily invested.

Here is a quick demo of how the new feature works.  Check it out.

One more way we are helping you to win on durability.


Durability Insights from the ISA for Tire Tread Compound Development

My last blog post (Getting a Quick Read on Durability with the Intrinsic Strength Analyser) highlighted a one-hour test on the Intrinsic Strength Analyser (ISA) to screen elastomer materials for long-term fatigue performance, with applications in materials R&D and plant mixing quality control. To illustrate the use of this approach for rubber compound development, we recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Nihat Isitman from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Akron, Ohio and Dr. Radek Stoček from Polymer Research Laboratory in Zlín, Czech Republic.1 Dr. Isitman led this project and was scheduled to present our research at the Spring 2020 Technical Meeting of the ACS Rubber Division, but the meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19 precautions. Instead, the Rubber Division is offering the content online, and the meeting presentations are available here for a modest fee.

Our study considered model tread compounds based on the well-known green tire formulation, which is a compatible blend of solution styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and high-cis butadiene rubber (BR) that is reinforced with a silica-silane system for low rolling resistance (improved fuel economy) passenger tires. Additional production compounds used in actual tire treads were also tested, but the proprietary results for these materials were not included in the public presentation. The SBR/BR ratio, silica loading, and crosslink density were all varied in this investigation. For each rubber formulation, the ISA was used to measure the fatigue threshold (T0) and critical tearing energy (tear strength; Tc), which bracket the two ends of the fatigue crack growth curve as shown below.

The established cutting method of Lake and Yeoh2,3 is used for assessing T0 on the ISA, and the one-hour test on this benchtop instrument is concluded with a tearing procedure to measure Tc. The ISA is manufactured by Coesfeld GmbH & Co. in Dortmund, Germany, and distributed in the Americas by Endurica LLC (see photo).

The slide image below summarizes the key findings of this research collaboration. Optimization of T0 and Tc is possible thanks to different sensitivities to the various compounding variables. It is important to measure both fatigue threshold and tear strength to quantify durability potential of rubber materials, and the ISA is an efficient and effective instrument for these measurements. To learn more about this testing equipment for the rubber lab, please contact me at


  1. N. Isitman, R. Stoček, and C. G. Robertson, “Influences of compounding attributes on intrinsic strength and tearing behavior of model tread rubber compounds”, paper scheduled to be presented at the 197th Technical Meeting of the Rubber Division, ACS, Independence, OH, April 28-30, 2020 (online presentation due to meeting cancellation).
  2. G. J. Lake and O. H. Yeoh, “Measurement of Rubber Cutting Resistance in the Absence of Friction”, International Journal of Fracture 14, 509 (1978).
  3. C. G. Robertson, R. Stoček, C. Kipscholl, and W. V. Mars, “Characterizing the Intrinsic Strength (Fatigue Threshold) of Natural Rubber/Butadiene Rubber Blends”, Tire Sci. Technol. 47, 292 (2019).

Two Decades of Critical Plane Analysis

It has been 20 years since Critical Plane Analysis for rubber was first conceived and validated.  There were early signs of its significance.  It won awards wherever I presented it. At the 1999 SAE Fatigue Design and Evaluation meeting, it won the Henry Fuchs award.  At the 2000 Tire Society meeting, it won the Superior Paper award. At the Fall 2000 ACS Rubber Division meeting, it won the Best Paper award.  Upon completing my 2001 doctoral thesis, we applied for and received a US patent (2003) on it.

The strongest early sign was that I soon found myself in company with others pursuing similar thinking.  The earliest was Dr. Nicolas Saintier.  As far as I know, neither of us was aware of the other’s work until 2006.  That was when he published an account similar enough to my own that when it came across my desk and I first started to read it, I felt certain he would cite my 2001 work as a source.  I have to admit to initially feeling let down when I reached the end of his paper and found no mention of my work.  I immediately looked for his other papers and found his 2001 doctoral thesis titled “Fatigue multiaxiale dans un élastomère de type NR chargé: mécanismes d’endommagement et critère local d’amorçage de fissure.” (Multiaxial fatigue life of a natural rubber: crack initiation mechanisms and local fatigue life criterion).  There it was – the same founding principle of Critical Plane Analysis that I had worked so hard to articulate and validate – the idea that cracks develop on a material plane, specifically the most critical material plane, and that their localized experience drives their evolution.  That we both articulated this beautifully simple and powerful principle in the same year with complete independence from each other, when no one else working on elastomers had yet spoken of this approach (there were precedents in the field of metal fatigue analysis), just shows that it was an idea whose time had come.

Although the foundational principle of Critical Plane Analysis was the same, there were also important differences between our accounts.  We differed on 1) how the critical plane is selected, 2) what criterion is used to quantify the severity of loading experience by the critical plane, 3) how damage on the critical plane evolves under solicitation.  The following table summarizes the key differences:


Table 1. Comparison of the Mars and Saintier Frameworks for Critical Plane Analysis.

Mars 2001 Saintier 2001
Critical Plane Selection Method Minimize the computed life after evaluation of damage on all planes Maximize the principal stress prior to evaluation of damage
Multiaxial Criterion Energy release rate estimated via cracking energy density on every plane Stress traction on the assumed critical plane
Damage Evolution Law Integration of crack growth rate law Power law Wohler curve
Strain Crystallization Law Treated as R ratio dependence of the crack growth rate law Treated as a modifier of the stress experienced on the critical plane

It may be said that Saintier’s approach followed more closely the precedents for Critical Plane Analysis in metal fatigue, particularly with respect to the method used to select the critical plane.  Selecting the plane is the first step in his method (identify the plane in order to compute the damage), but it is the last step in our method (compute the damage on each plane first and lastly pick the plane with the most damage).  Saintier’s approach also depends on a Wohler curve style characterization of fatigue behavior, where ours is defined via a crack growth rate law.  We have previously discussed the pros and cons of Wohler curves vs. fracture mechanics.  In our approach, we placed a high priority on taking advantage of the very large pre-existing body of knowledge on the fracture mechanical behavior of elastomers, and on the economic and operational advantages that crack growth experiments enjoy.

Since my and Saintier’s first steps, there have now been many others who have contributed in various forms to the overall method, its validation and/or its application.  It is safe to say that Critical Plane Analysis is here to stay, and set to continue expanding for many years (there are now several hundred research papers!).

For our part, Endurica is now in year 12 of delivering commercial grade fatigue analysis solutions built on this method.  Today, Critical Plane Analysis is a production analysis workflow used by many engineering organizations to solve critical durability issues.  It is the heart of the Endurica fatigue solver, and there are hundreds of trained users (look up the #fatigueninjas on twitter!).  It is unrivaled for its reliability, speed and accuracy in computing the impacts of multiaxial loading on durability.

What do the next 20 years hold?  We are going to see a transition in how fatigue analysis is used.  OEM organizations that manage durability and risk across rubber component supply chains will transition away from receiving fatigue simulation results on an optional basis towards requiring fatigue simulations by default on every part at the inception of new programs.  Expectations and achievement of cost-reduction, light weighting and sustainability initiatives will increase as product optimization begins to fully account for actual product use cases.  Critical Plane Analysis has already laid the foundation for these things to happen.  Older fatigue analysis methods that do not compete well against critical plane methods will become obsolete.  On the research side, there will be further development of material models for use in the critical plane framework.  Ageing, inelasticity, rate and anisotropy effects still need further development, for example.  In 20 years, durability will be just one more thing that engineers do well every day, whether or not they know that Critical Plane Analysis was how they did it.

Mars, W. V,  Multiaxial fatigue of rubber. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Toledo, 2001.

Mars, W. V. “Multiaxial fatigue crack initiation in rubber.” Tire Science and Technology 29, no. 3: 171-185, 2001.

Mars, W. V. “Cracking energy density as a predictor of fatigue life under multiaxial conditions.” Rubber chemistry and technology 75, no. 1: 1-17, 2002.

Mars, W. V., “Method and article of manufacture for estimating material failure due to crack formation and growth.” U.S. Patent No. 6,634,236. 21 Oct. 2003.

Saintier, N, “Fatigue multiaxiale dans un élastomère de type NR chargé: mécanismes d’endommagement et critère local d’amorçage de fissure.” Ph. D Dissertation., Ecole des Mines de Paris, 2001.

Saintier, N, G. Cailletaud, R. Piques. “Crack initiation and propagation under multiaxial fatigue in a natural rubber.” International Journal of Fatigue 28, no. 1: 61-72, (2006).


Getting a Quick Read on Durability with the Intrinsic Strength Analyser

There is now a one-hour test on a benchtop instrument for the rubber lab to screen materials for long-term fatigue performance. Please continue reading to learn more about this commercialization of a classical elastomer characterization methodology.

Rubber products manufacturers and raw materials suppliers seeking improved materials for next-generation applications depend on lab tests to predict end-use performance. These predictive tests should balance accuracy, relevance, and testing time. The testing time component is particularly challenging when the performance characteristic of interest is fatigue lifetime. The image of traditional fatigue testers chattering along for days or weeks comes to mind for those of us with experience in industrial rubber labs. The time consideration is the reason why tensile stress-strain testing (stretching a material to high strains until failure) is the most common physical test for the fracture behavior of rubber, in clear contrast to the most prevalent application condition for rubber products which is cyclic loading (fatigue) at much lower strains.

Fatigue crack growth is a key element of elastomer behavior that must be determined in order to predict durability, as illustrated below. For example, fatigue crack growth (FCG) testing provides the FCG rate law that is essential for predicting when and where cracks will show up in rubber products using Endurica’s elastomer fatigue software for finite element analysis []. Endurica has developed a finitely scoped, reduced variability measurement approach1 which is used in our Fatigue Property Mapping testing services and is available on the Coesfeld Tear and Fatigue Analyser (TFA). Our standard FCG measurement protocol takes 20 hours of continuous testing. This testing time is very efficient for characterizing best candidate materials in the development process, but a faster test is needed for narrowing down, for example, 20 initial materials to 5 best candidates or for use in a plant lab to monitor quality of rubber compounding processes.

The Intrinsic Strength Analyser (ISA) is a recent addition to the durability testing solutions for elastomers. The ISA was developed through a partnership between Coesfeld GmbH & Co. (Dortmund, Germany) and Endurica LLC (Findlay, OH, USA), and this benchtop instrument employs a testing protocol based on the long-established cutting method of Lake and Yeoh.3,4 Endurica’s president, Dr. Will Mars, discusses the importance of measuring intrinsic strength (fatigue threshold) in this video on our YouTube channel which also shows some footage of the ISA in operation:

The fatigue crack growth curve of rubbery materials is bounded by the fatigue threshold, T0, on the low tearing energy (T) side and by the critical tearing energy (tear strength), Tc, at the high-T end. This is depicted in the generalized figure below. A streamlined one-hour procedure on the ISA can measure both T0 and Tc which can then be used to estimate the slope (F) of the intermediate FCG power law response that correlates well with the actual F from rigorous FCG testing using the TFA (see figure). More information about this quick ISA approach to characterizing rubber crack growth behavior for materials development and quality control can be found in the Annual Review 2019 issue of Tire Technology International (open access).2

The fatigue crack growth slope, F, from the ISA should be considered an approximate value that is useful for comparing the relative FCG behavior of materials. However, the determination of T0 on the ISA is highly quantitative and the only realistic option for assessing this parameter, since the near-threshold crack growth testing on the TFA needed to define T0 would take about a month. The implementation areas for the ISA and TFA are compared in the following table. A very conservative approach to product development for elastomer durability is to create a combination of material behavior and component design that places the final operation of the rubber product below the fatigue threshold. If this is your company’s approach to engineering for durability, then the ISA is the testing instrument you need.

Crack precursor size is another key characteristic of elastomers that needs to be quantified in order to predict durability. In combination with a standard tensile stress-strain test, the critical tearing energy (Tc) from the ISA can also be used to assess crack precursor size, as we showed recently in an open access publication.5

Endurica is the exclusive Americas distributor of the Coesfeld ISA and TFA instruments. Endurica’s efficient and effective testing protocols are provided on these high-quality instruments for the rubber laboratory. To learn more about how to add these testing capabilities to your lab, please contact me at


  1. J. R. Goossens and W. V. Mars, “Finitely Scoped, High Reliability Fatigue Crack Growth Measurements”, Rubber Chem. Technol. 91, 644 (2018).
  2. C. G. Robertson, R. Stoček, R. Kipscholl, and W. V. Mars, “Characterizing Durability of Rubber for Tires”, Tire Technology International, Annual Review 2019, pp. 78-82.
  3. G. J. Lake and O. H. Yeoh, “Measurement of Rubber Cutting Resistance in the Absence of Friction”, International Journal of Fracture 14, 509 (1978).
  4. C. G. Robertson, R. Stoček, C. Kipscholl, and W. V. Mars, “Characterizing the Intrinsic Strength (Fatigue Threshold) of Natural Rubber/Butadiene Rubber Blends”, Tire Sci. Technol. 47, 292 (2019).
  5. C. G. Robertson, L. B. Tunnicliffe, L. Maciag, M. A. Bauman, K. Miller, C. R. Herd, and W. V. Mars, “Characterizing Distributions of Tensile Strength and Crack Precursor Size to Evaluate Filler Dispersion Effects and Reliability of Rubber”, Polymers 12, 203 (2020).

Fatigue Property Mapping 2.0

Fatigue Property Mapping Logo

We have just launched a few updates to our Fatigue Property Mapping service offerings.  The changes were:

  1. Addition of the all new Reliability Module for those needing to compute probability of failure in addition to fatigue life. The module gives you Weibull parameters to describe the statistical distribution of crack precursor sizes in your material.
  2. Addition of a pressure-volume test as an optional add-on to the hyperelastic module. Use this add-on when your rubber is loaded under high confinement to the point where its compressibility must be treated more accurately.  If the hydrostatic pressure is more than 5% of the bulk modulus, then this option makes sense.
  3. Split of the original Thermal Module in two components: a Basic Thermal Module and an Advanced Thermal Add-on Module. The Basic Thermal Module provides a dynamic strain sweep to quantify dissipation (for use in computing temperature distribution via FEA) and also provides the temperature sensitivity coefficient on the crack growth rate law.  The advanced module provides thermal transport properties (conductivity, specific heat), thermal expansion coefficient (for computing thermal pre-stresses), and additional data points for the dissipation and crack growth rate laws.
  4. Split of the original Extended Life (Ageing) Module into two parts: a Basic Ageing Module and a Master Curve Module. The basic module includes characterization of unaged and aged samples for stiffness, critical fracture energy, and intrinsic strength.  The oven exposure time and temperature for the aged sample is specified by the client, or can be set by Endurica based upon a client-specified life target.  The Full Master Curve Module gives both the Arrhenius law activation energy and a master curve showing how stiffness, critical fracture energy and intrinsic strength depend on exposure time and temperature.

Most prices have remained the same, except for the Thermal and Ageing modules.  The Thermal and Ageing modules have now been significantly streamlined, so that we now offer service at a lower price.

The new price list and specifications can be found here.

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