The energy density criterion is employed to characterize the crack initiati
on of pre-cracked specimens. Three-point-bending specimens are used with no
rmalized crack length varying from 0.1 to 0.5. The specimens are made of Ge
rman steel StE690. The results show that the local energy density increases
with almost the same rate with crack extension as the specimen geometry ch
anges. This indicates that the strain energy density can be used to charact
erize the onset of crack initiation for pre-cracked specimens. (C) 2001 Els
evier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.