Soft matter denotes a large category of materials showing unique properties, resulting from a low elastic modulus, a very high deformation capability, time-dependent mechanical behavior, and a peculiar mechanics of damage and fracture. The flaw tolerance, commonly understood as the ability of a given material to withstand external loading in the presence of a defect, is certainly one of the most noticeable attributes. This feature results from a complex and highly entangled microstructure, where the mechanical response to external loading is mainly governed by entropic-related effects. In the present paper, the flaw tolerance of soft elastomeric polymers, subjected to large deformation, is investigated experimentally. In particular, we consider the tensile response of thin plates made of different silicone rubbers, containing defects of various severity at different scales. Full-field strain maps are acquired by means of the Digital Image Correlation (DIC) technique. The experimental results are interpreted by accounting for the blunting of the defects due to large deformation in the material. The effect of blunting is interpreted in terms of reduction of the stress concentration factor generated by the defect, and failure is compared to that of traditional crystalline brittle materials.
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