The development of an accurate model for the fatigue assessment of doubly curved cracks in tubular joints
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Fatigue tests on tubular joints have shown that as a crack propagates through the chord wall, it curves under the weld toe. This produces, at the brace-chord intersection, a doubly curved semi-elliptical crack emanating from the weld toe. A doubly curved crack in a tubular joint is a very complex geometry which has proved to be difficult to model. In consequence, previous work on the evaluation of stress intensity factors in tubular joints adopted a simplified approach, ignoring the crack curvature under the weld toe. However, in the absence of benchmark solutions, the effects of any modelling approximation on accuracy are impossible to quantify. To address this problem and as part of the research on fatigue assessment methodologies, a technique which is able to accurately model doubly curved cracks in tubularT-joints has been developed at University of Wales, Swansea. This paper describes a detailed account of the generation of the finite element model and the procedure for evaluating the stress intensity factor solutions. The validation results are also presented to demonstrate the reliability of the model developed.
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