Good durability/reliability performance of products can be achieved by properly constructing and implementing design curves, which are usually obtained by analyzing test data, such as fatigue S-N data. A good design curve construction approach should consider sample size, failure probability and confidence level, and these features are especially critical when test sample size is small. The authors have developed a design S-N curve construction method based on the tolerance limit concept. However, recent studies have shown that the analytical solutions based on the tolerance limit approach may not be accurate for very small sample size because of the assumptions and approximations introduced to the analytical approach.

In this paper a Monte Carlo simulation approach is used to construct design curves for test data with an assumed underlining normal (or lognormal) distribution. The difference of factor K, which measures the confidence level of the test data, between the analytical solution and the Monte Carlo simulation solutions is compared. Finally, the design curves constructed based on these methods are demonstrated and compared using fatigue S-N data with small sample size.

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