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Eleventh International ASTM/ESIS Symposium on Fatigue and Fracture Mechanics

May 2011, Anaheim, CA

Experimental and Numerical Evaluation of the Influence of Strength


Mismatch on Fatigue Crack Growth Behavior Including Closure Effects

Diego F.S. Burgos, Claudio Ruggieri


Dept. of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering (PNV-EPUSP, University of São Paulo
Av. Prof. Mello Moraes, 2231, São Paulo, SP 05508-030

Leonardo Barbosa Godefroid


Federal University of Ouro Preto
Campus Universitário, Escola de Minas, 35400-000 - Ouro Preto, MG - Brasil

Fatigue assessments of steel weldments remain a key issue in design, fabrication and safe
operation of critical engineering structures, including pressure vessels, offshore industry, and
pipelines. Typical welding processes almost invariably introduce crack-like defects in the welded
region, most often in the form of planar flaws (e.g., hot or cold cracking, lack of penetration,
undercut), which substantially reduce the fatigue strength of the welded joint. Current design and
in-service fatigue assessments for welded components, such as the ASME or DNV codes, employ
conventional procedures adopting stress-life approaches in which fatigue life predictions are made
based upon crack initiation and the simple knowledge of nominal stresses acting on the weldment.
While used effectively in many structural applications, it is now generally recognized that crack
propagation from pre-existing defects dominates the fatigue life of welded joints. Moreover, there
is a complex interplay of key factors affecting fatigue crack growth rates in welds, such as weld
geometry, strength mismatch and weld residual stresses, which is not explicitly taken into account
in conventional stress-life methodologies. Consequently, advanced procedures for fatigue
assessments of critical weldments must include the effects of crack extension under cyclic loading
on fatigue life predictions for welded components. In particular, accurate estimates of the effective
crack-tip driving force (as measured by ∆ K) with crack extension become central in robust
correlations of fatigue behavior between these conventional test specimens and structures.
As a step in this direction, this work provides an experimental and numerical investigation of
the effects of strength mismatch on fatigue crack growth behavior in ASTM A516 Grade 70 steel
weldments. One purpose of this study is to develop a framework for fatigue assessments of welded
joints while, at the same time, gaining additional understanding of key factors affecting the fatigue
life of structural welds. Another purpose is to assess the potential strong effects of plasticity-
induced crack closure on fatigue crack extension of weldments. Very detailed non-linear finite
element analyses provide the evolution of cyclic load with increased crack extension which enable
to determine the effective opening loads and assess the influence of weld strength mismatch on
fatigue crack propagation. Fatigue crack growth testing on structural welds made of an ASTM
A516 Gr70 steel provides the fatigue data to validate the approach. The analyses reveal that the
overmatch condition has a reduced level of crack closure with a significant impact on fatigue crack
growth rate and, consequently, on the fatigue life. Overall, the present results provide a strong
support to use crack growth-based approaches in more advanced fatigue assessment procedures for
welded components.