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International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 81 (2004) 8385 www.elsevier.


Short Communication

A note on stresses in fatigue design checks of welded structures

J.L. Zeman*
Institute for Pressure Vessel and Plant Technology, Vienna University of Technology, Gusshausstrasse 30/329, Vienna A-1040, Austria Received 11 December 2003; accepted 11 December 2003

The incredible advances in computing power, hardware and software, should be reected in codes and standards by denitions, concepts and notions, which are not only clear and unambiguous, but also general enough to encompass a fairly broad range of problems of interest. Unfortunately many codes and standards are not general enough, and some are not unambiguous. Almost all of the up-to-date codes and standards [1 5] recognize that there is a fundamental, principal difference in the behaviour of welded and unwelded regions under cyclic actions, and use different approaches for welded and for unwelded regions. The fatigue design curves for unwelded regions are based, as in the past, on experimental results of tests on small polished specimens at room temperature in air. The fatigue design curves for welded regions, on the other hand, are derived from experimental results on actual welded structures. These are fabricated to normal standards of workmanship, with typical weld jointstypical weld prole, typical weld surfaces, typical weld joint material (macro-and micro-structural build-up and inhomogeneous material properties), typical welding residual stress and distortions, and with typical welding defects and imperfections within specied tolerances. The specimens have been tested under load-control, or, in the low-cycle fatigue regime, under strain-control. For historical reasons, and simplicity of presentation of the fatigue curves, low-cycle data have been expressed in terms of pseudo-elastic stresses, via usage of a linear-elastic constitutive low. To standardize and group the experimental results for welded structures, the fatigue results have been standardized with reference to a specic experimentally determined stress state at a specic point, called the hot spot and dened as the point of crack initiation, in an idealized structureone with idealized weld prole.
* Tel.: 43-1-58801-32900; fax: 43-1-58801-32999. E-mail address: j.zeman (J.L. Zeman). 0308-0161/$ - see front matter q 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijpvp.2003.12.014

To obtain this stressin the beginning called the hot spot stressmeasured strains, at pivot points on the surface close to the hot spot, were converted into stresses using a linearelastic constitutive law, and the stress components then extrapolated into the hot spot. In a clear description of the various historical approaches [8], Radaj and Sonsino appropriately call this stress the hot spot structural stress. The governing independent variables chosen were the ranges of the principal stresses normal and parallel to the weld seam. The reference stress for grouping and classifying the test results was, therefore, the maximum principal stress normal to the weld seam, or the one parallel to it, at a specic point at the surface or close to the surface, called hot spot, taking into account stress concentration effects due to the overall geometry of a particular constructional detail, but excluding local stress concentration effects due to the weld geometry and particular local specic geometric and material weld details. This reference stress is the stress due to applied actions at a specic pointthe point of crack initiationin an idealized structureone without stress/strain concentration effects due to the (very) local weld details. Effects of (very) local (random) weld details, geometric and material ones, and of other local details, such as residual stresses and the stress distributions across the thickness, are accounted for in the weld fatigue classes. Within this approach, this reference stress, used in the evaluation of experimental results, shall of course, also be used in the fatigue checks. With little deviations in the wording, this denition of this reference stress is used in the Eurocode 3: Design of Steel Structures [1 3], where it is called Geometric stress or Hot Spot Stress. It is also used in EN 13445-3: Unred Pressure Vessels: Design [4], where it is dened as the value at the hot spot of the Structural Stress, dened, in Clause 17 and in Annex B, as the stress in a stress concentration-free model of the structure, i.e. the stress determined in an


J.L. Zeman / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 81 (2004) 8385

idealized model which takes into account the real geometry of the structure with the exception of the local details which cause only local stress concentrations. This denition of structural stress can also be used directly in numerical calculations, e.g. using Finite Element or Boundary Element software, by using a stress concentration-free model, by eliminating or smoothing local stress/strain concentrations, by using elements which do not render local stress/ strain concentrations, e.g. beam, plate or shell elements, or by extrapolation of stresses at pivot points to the hot spot. Such an extrapolation may also be required if the chosen model contains (new) stress/strain concentrations, or even singularities, which do not exist in the actual structure.

This denition of structural stress can also be used unchanged in thermal stress problems and in problems involving thick-walled structural details, in problems where the stress distribution across the thickness in the stressconcentration-free model is not linear. Unfortunately other approaches for the determination of the reference stress, which are different in principle, have inuenced this clear and straightforward concept. Many of the welded specimens used in the tests and the loadings were so simple that the stress distributions in the stressconcentration-free structure could be calculated with formulae of elementary technical theories of structures. In these cases the values of these nominal stresses are equal to the reference stresses of the pure concept, set out above. However, this does not mean that the design fatigue curves for the fatigue classes, determined by using the pure concept, are based on nominal stresses. Many of the welded specimens used in the tests and the loadings were simple enough such that the stress distributions in cross-sections, or along normals through the pivot points were linear or technically approximately linear. Sketches explaining the extrapolation from the pivot points into the hot spot showed, unnecessarily, these linear distributions. Inappropriate generalization has led to the denition of a hot spot stress as the value of the structural stress at the hot spot, where the structural stress is linearly distributed across the thickness and consists of two parts: membrane stress and bending stress. While this is sometimes true, in general it is wrong. Unfortunately this erroneous generalization did creep also into EN 13445-3: In Clause 17 the denition is correct, but the following sentence, that in the vessel regions of plate and shell type the structural stress due to pressure is linearly distributed, is unnecessary and in general wrong. A similarly misleading wording is used in Clause 18 in the denition itself.

An extreme case is the wording in PD 5500 [5]: The fatigue assessment shall be based on the primary plus secondary stress category, if this is used with the hot spot stress approach and design fatigue curves of the pure concept. All concepts based on linear stress distributions, or equivalent linear stress distributions, are generally not appropriate for regions where the curvature to thickness ratio is not large (enough), for thermal stress problems, and for other problems where the stress/strain distribution in the stress-concentration-free structure is not linear across the thickness, however dened. Typical falsifying examples are those with cyclically varying symmetric thermal stress distributions across the thickness with a time-invariant equivalent linear distribution. Especially bad in this respect is the wording in [5]. The new approach to fatigue design pursued presently in the USA, by the Welding Research Council and the Pressure Vessel Research Council [6,7], uses designations of the semi-local approaches, like hot spot, (equivalent) structural stress, and looks like a rened semi-local approach, but it is a global approach, since it can be expressed in stress resultants. Like all the aforementioned approaches, this approach takes the break-through of a fatigue crack as the failure criterion, recognizing that for welded regions the manor part of fatigue life is given by macroscopic fatigue crack propagation, contrary to unwelded regions, where the major part is given by crack initiation. The reference stress, used in this approach consistently in the evaluation of test results and in design calculations, is called equivalent structural stress, and is dened as the modied structural stress at the hot spot. The structural stress (tensor) is dened as the stress (tensor) whose components vary linearly along the stress classication line. This structural stress could also be dened as the equivalent linear stress distribution along the stress classication line through the hot spot, where equivalent means equivalent with respect to equilibrium, and could be related to stress resultants. The modication factor, to be applied on the value of this structural stress at the hot spot, depends on the thickness, and on the ratio of the bending component of the structural stress to the sum of bending and membrane components. This modication factor is based on fracture mechanics concepts for crack propagation, and is given by different equations for load-controlled and for strain-controlled conditions. The attempt to take into account the inuence of the stress distribution along the crack propagation line is certainly a renement in this approach. However, the reliance on equivalent linear stress distributions limits the range of applicability to problems with predominantly linear stress distributions, and leads into the well-known problems encountered with stress classication. Because of its reliance on equivalent linear distributions, in many problems it may be non-conservative, in many thermal

J.L. Zeman / International Journal of Pressure Vessels and Piping 81 (2004) 8385


stress problems not usable, similar to the other approaches, which use this notion.

[1] Eurocode No. 3. Design of steel structures. Part 1. Genreal rules and rules for buildings, Edited draft (August 1989), Issue 1: September 1989. [2] ENV 1993-1-1, Eurocode 3. Design of steel structures. Part 1-1. General rules and rules for buildings 1996.

[3] prEN 1993-1-9: 2003, Eurocode 3. Design of steel structures. Part 1 9. Fatigue. Issue: 17 May 2003. [4] EN 13445-3: 2002 (E). Unred pressure vessels. Part 3. Design. Issue 8 (2003-11). [5] PD 5500:2003. Specication for unred fusion welded pressure vessels. BSI 2003. [6] ASME Section VIII Division 2 Rewrite, Revision 11. [7] WRC Bulletin 474: Dong P, Hong JK, Osage DA, Prager M. Master SN curve method for fatigue evaluation of welded components. The Welding Research Council. August; 2002. [8] Radaj D, Sonsino CM. Fatigue assessment of welded joints by local approaches. Cambridge: Abington Publishing; 1998.