Conventional failure assessment schemes (CEGB-R6, BS-7910) use a lower bound toughness obtained from highly constrained test specimens. A lower crack tip constraint leads to enhanced resistance to both cleavage and ductile tearing. The cracks in many real engineering structures are not highly constrained, which makes failure predictions using conventional failure assessment schemes based on the lower bound fracture toughness overly conservative. Too much conservatism in the structural assessment can lead to unwarranted repair or decommissioning of structures, and thus cause unnecessary cost and inconvenience. Due to recent developments in constraint-based fracture mechanics, it is important to include the constraint effect in the practical assessment of defective components. For example, the recent revision of R6 and the newly developed structural integrity assessment procedures for European industry (SINTAP) have suggested a framework for failure assessments that can take the constraint effect into account. In this paper, the constraint-based failure assessment of a surface cracked welded plate under uniaxial tension load is presented. A constraint-based failure assessment diagram and a method for combining primary and the secondary loads are discussed. Finite element based correlations are used to calculate the stress intensity factors, and constraint parameters, while the limit loads are derived from existing closed form approximations. It is demonstrated that when the lower constraint effect is properly accounted for, the maximum allowable tensile stress level can increase 15% or more.

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