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Keywords:

  • coarse mesh;
  • fatigue design;
  • fillet-welded joints;
  • finite element analysis;
  • local approaches;
  • notch stress intensity factors

ABSTRACT

The aim of this work is to present an engineering method based on linear elastic finite element (FE) analyses oriented to fatigue strength assessments of fillet-welded joints made of steel or aluminium alloys and subjected to mode I loading in the weld toe region where fatigue cracks nucleate. The proposed approach combines the robustness of the notch stress intensity factor approach with the simplicity of the so-called ‘peak stress method’. Fatigue strength assessments are performed on the basis of (i) a well-defined elastic peak stress evaluated by FE analyses at the crack initiation point (design stress) and (ii) a unified scatter band (design fatigue curve) dependent on the class of material, i.e. structural steel or aluminium alloys. The elastic peak stress is calculated by using rather coarse meshes with a fixed FE size. A simple rule to calculate the elastic peak stress is also provided if a FE size different from that used in the present work is adopted. The method can be applied to joints having complex geometry by adopting a two-step analysis procedure that involves standard finite element (FE) models like those usually adopted in an industrial context. The proposed approach is validated against a number of fatigue data published in the literature.