Online fatigue crack growth monitoring with clip gauge and direct current potential drop

Steven De Tender, Nahuel Micone, Wim De Waele


Fatigue is a well-known failure phenomenon which has been and still is extensively studied. Often structures are designed according to the safe-life principle so no crack initiation occurs. Nowadays there is a high emphasis on cost-efficiency, and one might rather opt for a fail-safe design. Therefore a certain amount of crack growth can be allowed in structures, but then a good knowledge of stresses and related crack growth rates is needed. To this end, extensive studies are done to obtain a material’s Paris law curve. Within the framework of research for offshore wind turbine constructions, tests were done to determine the crack growth rate of a high strength low alloy (HSLA) steel. A dedicated LabVIEW program was developed to be able to determine an entire Paris law curve with a single specimen, by controlling the stress intensity factor range (ΔK). The program is controlled by the readings of a clip gauge, which make it possible to plan the amount of crack growth per ΔK block and thus plan an entire test in advance. The potential drop technique was also applied in order to obtain the Paris law curve. Clip gauge results were compared with direct current potential drop monitoring. This comparison was done by means of an a/W-N diagram and the resulting Paris law curves. The results show a very good correlation between both methods and with the visual confirmation.


Delta K; da/dN; Paris law curve; a/W-N curve; clip gauge; DCPD; K-decreasing; K-increasing

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