Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) guidelines contain amongst others, rules to assess flaw interaction. Major flaw dimensions (depth or height and length) are typically characterized assuming the flaws to be contained entirely within a bounding rectangle through a procedure known as flaw idealization. In (computational) fracture mechanics based calculations, flaws are often assumed to be (semi-)elliptical. This paper investigates the interaction between identical co-planar surface breaking flaws. Two flaw shapes are considered and compared: “canoe-shaped” (quarter-circular ends and constant depth elsewhere) and semi-elliptical. Especially for long shallow flaws, the canoe-shaped approximates the bounding rectangle, whereas the semi-elliptical shape only touches the bounding rectangle at three points (deepest point and two points at the surface). Several flaw dimensions and spacing distances are studied through an extensive parametric study comprising elastic and elastic-plastic finite element simulations. The results, based on Stress Intensity Factor (SIF) and J-integral analysis, show how the flaw shape can affect the degree of interaction. Notably, the inconsistency is less in linear-elastic analysis, but becomes more pronounced at higher (elastic-plastic) loading levels. This work highlights a challenge of comparing analytical and numerical based evaluations of interaction with ECA guidelines.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.