This paper concerns the numerical simulation of elastic and elastic-plastic crack growth in welded components. Three-dimensional, spline-based, automatic crack re-meshing algorithms have been developed at TWI to simulate crack propagation using the commercial finite element analysis software ABAQUS. These methods allow for fatigue crack growth simulations employing the Paris law, mean stress effects and more advanced elastic crack growth laws, and incorporate nodal release techniques or iterative stationary crack methods coupled with experimentally measured tearing resistance curves for elastic-plastic crack growth. The flexibility, stability and accuracy of these numerical methods are demonstrated through several examples. The application of the crack growth simulations to full-life engineering critical assessments (ECA) of offshore structures is also described and demonstrated.

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