Abstract

Engineering Critical Assessment (ECA) guidelines contain 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 fracture mechanics based calculations, flaws are often assumed to be (semi-)elliptical when evaluating possible interaction. This paper investigates the implication of this simplification for the specific case of two identical co-planar surface breaking flaws. Two flaw shapes are considered and compared: semi-elliptical and canoe-shaped (quarter-circular ends with constant depth elsewhere). Especially for long and shallow flaws, the canoe-shaped configuration best 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 both linear elastic and elastic-plastic finite element simulations. The results, evaluated in terms of stress intensity factor (SIF) and J-integral, show that the flaw shape idealization, particularly for long and shallow flaws, can significantly affect the degree of interaction between identical co-planar flaws. The inconsistency between semi-elliptical and canoe-shaped flaw shapes is observed in a linear elastic analysis and becomes more pronounced at higher loading levels evaluated in elastic-plastic analyses

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