Microcracking has been shown to occur when bone is `damaged’ as shown by a loss of stiffness. The effect on bone's toughness of the types of damage produced at low losses of stiffness are not known. We loaded bovine bone specimens in bending and tension to stiffness losses of up to 27%, and examined the microcracking produced. The tensile specimens had diffuse arrays of microcracks of 2–20 μm in length, characteristic of tensile loading, on all surfaces. The bending specimens showed tensile microcracking on the tensile surface and characteristic long, straight, cross-hatched compression cracks on the compressive surface. Specimens were then broken in impact. Those that had been damaged in bending were divided into two groups, in one group the part of the specimen which had undergone compression damage was placed in tension, and in the other group the tensile damage was placed in tension. Tensile damage loaded in tension did not reduce the bone's energy-absorbing ability in impact until a modulus reduction of over 20%. However compression damage loaded in tension did severely reduce the bone's energy absorption capabilities (by an average of about 40%).
Keywords: Bone; Microcracking; Damage; Impact–strength; Mechanical