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Received: 1 December 2016 Revised: 12 May 2017 Accepted: 31 May 2017

DOI: 10.1111/ffe.12654


Application of structural integrity assessment procedure on an

axle pin of a wind turbine

N. Gubeljak1 | M. Cvetic2 | Ž. BOŽIĆ3 | J. Predan1

Faculty of Mechanical Engineering,
University of Maribor, Maribor, Slovenia
Končar‐Generators and Motors Inc.,
The axle pin is one of the most critical components of a wind turbine. Because 2
Zagreb, Croatia bearings are mounted on the axle pin, it is not subjected to torque and is designed
Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and only to carry bending stresses. The axle is usually made by a casting process, which
Naval Architecture, University of Zagreb,
can induce defects. After casting of the axle pin, radial surface cracks were detected
Zagreb, Croatia
outside by ultrasonic and magnetic particle inspection. The first goal of this paper is
Correspondence to establish defect tolerance in the design of the axle pin, ie, at what critical crack
N Gubeljak, Faculty of Mechanical
Engineering, University of Maribor, 2000
size can we expect failure of the axle pin? The second aim is assessing the remaining
Maribor, Slovenia. lifetime of the defected axle pin used in operation of a wind turbine. Both issues are
Email: nenad.gubeljak@uni‐mb.si important to prevent unexpected failure and establish a system for on‐line structural
health monitoring. This paper presents a procedure for the structural integrity
assessment of axle pins by considering their material properties and fatigue crack
growth parameters and comparing them with their fatigue design curve.

axle pin in wind turbine, crack's defects, fatigue design, structure integrity assessment

1 | INTRODUCTION plant numbers are increasing even in regions with unstable

wind conditions. In these regions, wind turbine components
Today, wind turbine farms have become a significant source can be exposed to variable wind directions and powers. Con-
of renewable electrical energy. They are an alternative to sequently, the components of the wind turbine are designed
steam, nuclear, or even hydroelectric power plants, due to by using a fatigue loading curve with cumulative numbers
their usability. In spite of the fact that wind power depends of cycles for wide spectra of stress amplitudes.1 However,
on climate and the geographic configuration, wind power defects present in vital components, such as the axle pin,
can be fatal for the safety and the integrity of the wind
Nomenclature: a, crack depth; f(Lr), failure assessment curve; E, Young turbine. The first goal of this paper is to ascertain if a design
modulus; E′, E in plane stress; E/(1 − 2) in‐plane strain; J, J integral; Jmat, of the axle pin is defect tolerant, ie, what is the critical crack
crack resistance of critical J integral; KI, linear elastic stress intensity size we can expect failure of the axle pin? To determine the
factor; Kmat, crack resistance of critical K; KIQ, measured fracture
critical crack length in the axle, we performed a full structural
toughness of material on specimen with stable crack extension; Kr, ratio of
applied K to the crack resistance, K/Kmat; Lr, ratio of applied load, F, to
integrity analysis according to the FITNET2 procedure and
yield load, FY; Lrmax, plastic collapse limit of Lr; MY, bending moment at discovered that the initial crack defect would not result in
yield load; N, strain hardening exponent; Rp0.2, proof strength (materials plastification under the maximum projected load during final
without Lüders plateau); Rm, tensile strength (engineering); T, thickness of assembly. This enables the crack to remain hidden at the start
wall; β, Surface crack angle °; δ, CTOD (crack tip opening displacement); of standard operation.
ν, Poisson ratio; σb, bending stress; σm, membrane stress; σref, reference
The second goal was the assessment of the remaining life-
stress; σY, yield strength (general)Abbreviations: CDF, crack driving force;
CTOD, crack tip opening displacement; DLC, design loading case; FAD, time, when such an axle pin with a defect is going to be used
failure assessment diagram; LL, limit load; SF, safe factor in service of a wind‐turbine aggregate. The analysis revealed

1284 © 2017 Wiley Publishing Ltd. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/ffe Fatigue Fract Eng Mater Struct. 2017;40:1284–1294.

that under the projected structural load, over a period of

20 years, the fatigue crack spreads from the initial crack
and reaches critical crack length before the planned end of
life. Both issues are important to prevent unexpected failure
and establish a system for on‐line health monitoring.
Mechanically, the axle pin is the most critical part of the
structure and is subjected to bending rather than torsion. The
axle pin in the middle is connected to the hub with 2 bear-
ings. The radial bearing and the larger axial‐radial bearing
are mounted on the axle pin, at the tip and within the radial
transition region of the axle pin, respectively. Three blades
are mounted to the hub. Torsion is induced between the
hub and the generator's rotor. The generator's stator is fixed
onto the axle pin and the main carrier, as shown in the cross
section of the wind‐turbine housing in Figure 1. The direct
current is induced between the permanent magnets on the
generator's rotor and the stator fixed on the axle pin. There-
fore, the axle pin can be mechanically treated as a bending
loaded part of the wind turbine. The axle is usually made of
cast steel (grade G24CrMn6), cast by the gravity casting
process. Figure 2A shows an axle pin made by the casting
process and painted after thermomechanical treatment. The
design of the axle pin shows changes in wall thicknesses
and reduction of diameters. The reduction of the diameter is
a result of optimization and the design concept approach.3
Structural health monitoring (SHM) technology of wind tur-
bines provides a financial benefit, as it ensures reliability of
operation throughout the expected 20 year lifetime. The term
“health” as we use here encompasses the loading, damage, FIGURE 2 A, The axle pin made by the casting process and painted
and operational capability of the turbine.4 Adams et al4 after thermal and mechanical treatments. B, The surface defects detected
analysed the change of the modal natural frequencies during by magnetic particle inspections. [Colour figure can be viewed at
operation with respect to the loading conditions and the
sustained damage to the vital component(s).
Structural health monitoring technology is utilized for
wind turbine components manufactured without defect;
however, the possibility of hidden defects needs to be taken
into account. Structural health monitoring technology pre-
sents a global system for tracking wind turbine behaviour,
which reports changes as they occur, in real time. The
fitness‐for‐purpose assessment enables forecasting of the
component behaviour based on the projected operating con-
ditions and allows estimation of the financial usability of
the defected component.
Gravity casting of the 3 tonne axle pin can cause defects
in materials, such as flaws, pores, or inclusions of any
remaining slag. The surface cracks were detected at the radial
surface on the outside of the axle pin by ultrasonic inspection
and by inspection with magnetic particles, as shown in
Figure 2B. To establish a system for on‐line health monitor-
FIGURE 1 Cross section of the nacelle (1, blade; 2, spin; 3, hub; 4, ing, the found defects lead us to consider whether the design
bearings; 5, axle pin; 6, generator; 7, main column; 8, axial bearing; 9, of the axle pin is defect tolerant.
column; 10, nacelle). [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary. The first step before establishing on‐line health monitor-
com] ing is the necessary structural integrity assessment of the axle

for flaws and finding the lifetime of the axle pin from the
detected crack size until the critical crack depth. Per the
FITNET2 structural integrity procedure,5,6 the flaws are
treated as cracks. The structural integrity assessment
procedures are tools for estimating the effect of the crack size
for given loading amplitude. In the past 20 years, different
structural integrity procedures have been developed.2,7,8
The structural integrity assessment of the axle pin should
provide answers to the following issues:

1. the determination of the maximum static loading capac-

ity of the loaded component with an existing crack;
2. determining the maximum allowed crack size for the
given loading conditions; and
3. finding the remaining lifetime as the fatigue crack prop- FIGURE 3 The ferritic and bainitic microstructure (etched by Nital
agates from the detected crack size to the critical crack 3%), microhardness 250 to 300 HV 0.2. [Colour figure can be viewed
depth for the given design loading amplitude. at wileyonlinelibrary.com]

Critical crack size is important for the determination of metallographic investigation shows presence of MnS inclu-
the fatigue lifetime from an initial detected crack to the sions over 20 μm in size and a cluster of inclusions 100 μm
critical crack size. Each loading amplitude has its own large, as shown in Figures 4A and 4B. Energy‐dispersive X‐
maximum load and therefore its own critical crack length. ray analysis positions the presence of MnS in nonmetallic
If the difference between the crack size in the first and the inclusions. Changes in wall thicknesses and the reduction of
second cases is significant, then the period of fatigue crack diameters can cause defects in materials, such as pores, flaws,
propagation can be treated as the service lifetime. If the ser- or any remaining slag. We used sections of the cast steel slab
vice lifetime is shorter than the required 20 year lifetime of for determination of the mechanical properties. Material prop-
the wind turbine, then the axle pin containing the detected erties are obtained by tensile testing prescribed by the ASTM
flaws is not suitable. The main goal of this paper is to E8M‐2015 standard.10 The obtained tensile material proper-
demonstrate a structural integrity approach containing the ties of the cast steel are given in Table 2. The fracture tough-
determination of the maximum sustained loading capacity, ness values were obtained by crack tip opening displacement
the determination of the critical crack length or depth, and testing per the ASTM E‐1820 standard11 and, with conserva-
finally, the determination of the remaining lifetime of the tive values for the 3 specimens, are listed in Table 2. The
component by using the fatigue design loading curve. obtained fracture toughness value KIQ = 193 MPa m½ was
obtained as the minimum of that of all 3 specimens,
conforming to the ASTM E‐1820 standard testing.
The design procedure for the wind turbine components,
such as the axle pin, should be performed per the
Germanischer Lloyd Rules and Guidelines12 and the
2.1 | Tensile properties, chemical composition,
International standard IEC 61400‐1.13 The design procedures
and microstructure
prescribe design loading conditions of components: the so‐
The casting steel G24CrMn6 is a low‐carbon Mn alloyed steel called fatigue design load with a cumulative number of cycles
with the chemical composition shown in Table 1. The grain that the axle pin should survive in the 20 years of a safe
size was measured by using the Jaffries Planimetric Method service lifetime. The loading conditions are prescribed by
according to ASTM E‐112.9 The grain size value was the standardized loading cases regarding the wind region
0.075 ± 0.022 mm (4.6 ASTM) with mainly a ferritic and and conditions.12 The axle pin is often equipped by strain
bainitic microstructure, as shown in Figure 3. During the gauges for deformation measurement and piezo sensors for
solidification process, the nonmetallic inclusions can remain acceleration measurement. For confirming the local most
in the area where the geometry and thickness change. The deformed area, different approaches can be applied.14-16

TABLE 1 Chemical composition of steel G42CrMn6 (wt%) 2.2 | Fatigue crack growth rate testing
C Si (max) Mn S (max) Cr P (max)
The fatigue limit is designed with respect to the Whöler (S‐N)
0.22 0.6 1.6 0.015 1.5 0.020
curve without a crack, with a safety factor (SF) of 2.

to ASTM E‐645 by using 4‐point bending specimens with

an automatic design of the da/dN − ΔK curve. Fatigue crack
propagation testing was performed by using the RUMUL
device to determine parameters of the Paris‐Erdogan law
crack growth relationship15:

¼ C ðΔK−ΔK th Þm ; (1)

where m and C are material constants, ΔK is the applied

stress intensity factor range during fatigue testing in MPa m½,
and ΔKth is threshold of stress intensity factor range in
MPa m½, as shown in Figure 5, where m = 3.81,
C = 2.03 × 10−9, and ΔKth = 4.84 MPa·m½.
In the fitness‐for‐purpose assessment, the design of the
turbine shaft is safe if the range of the stress intensity factor
for the detected defect is lower than the fatigue threshold
value ΔKth = 4.85 MPa √m (for a loading ratio R = −1).
To ensure that ΔKI is below ΔKth, the corresponding stress
amplitude should be less than 6.4 MPa for the detected
defect, a 2 mm crack.


A full 3D finite element model (FEM) was used to obtain the

displacement, strain, and stress fields of the axle pin.18 Finite
element analysis has been performed by using the FE code
ABAQUS.19 Figure 6 shows the FEM used and the
FIGURE 4 A, Nonmetallic inclusions of MnS found in
metallographic section. B, The cluster of nonmetallic inclusions found
in metallographic sample section. [Colour figure can be viewed at

TABLE 2 Measured mechanical properties and fracture toughness of

cast steel

Material (Grade G42CrMo4) Cast Steel

Yield stress Rp0:2 549 MPa
Ultimate tensile stress Rm 653 MPa
Young modulus E 185.6 GPa
Poisson ν 0.3
CTOD0.2BL = CTODmat 0.275 mm
J0.2BL = Jmat 185 N/mm

Moriarty17 claims that the SF required was as large as 1.7 if the

hub thrust loads were considered the dominant design drivers
by applying extrapolation methods for the determination of the
SF while stating that the aim of these simpler techniques is not
a complete replacement of load extrapolation techniques.
To determine the lifetime of a component with a crack, FIGURE 5 Results of the fatigue crack propagation and fracture
fatigue crack growth rate testing was performed according toughness tests. [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]

according to the Germanische Lloyd.12 Bladed20 provides

from all DLC‐only maximum values for the forces and
moments regarding the cross section or the main part.
The design loading case 7.1c50 of the axle pin presents a
case when the critical velocity has been achieved for a short
period of time. It is the maximum external load for the axle
pin and corresponds to a critical wind speed of 180 km/h.
If the wind overcomes this maximum allowed value, the
blades “feather” and the wind freely pass without rotating
the wind turbine.21 Design loading case is defined by the
geometry, the wind conditions (yaw position, pitch position
of blade, etc), and the design situation (power of the wind tur-
bine, start, stop, etc).
The 3 moments and forces were prescribed on the analyt-
FIGURE 6 Finite element 3D model of pin axle for numerical ical rigid body at the reference point as follows:
simulation. [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Mx = 514.3 kNm, My = 2064.9 kNm, Mz = −453.9 kNm,
Fx = 101.3 kN, Fy = −34.1 kN, and Fz = −329.5 kN.
individual element. Three‐dimensional 8 node linear The most critical regions in the axle pin were detected
hexodron elements are used for a total of 1.3 million from the stress field after computation. Bending loading
elements. dominates in this loading case. Figure 7 shows the equivalent
Finite element model analysis was performed to check if von Mises stress field, and 2 profiles of the equivalent von
the highest stress concentration occurs in the detected defect Mises stress and the longitudinal σ22 are plotted in diagrams,
area of the axle pin. Finite element model was performed to as shown in Figure 8. Both stress profiles are taken for the
also check the stress distribution throughout the thickness outer surface of the axle pin and are plotted as a function of
of the axle pin wall. The whole part was modelled with the the y coordinate. The highest peak of the crack opening stress
prescribed boundary conditions at the end where the axle appears at 600 mm from the end of the axle pin around the
pin is connected to the tower by screws. Screw holes were axial bearing position, as shown in Figure 8. The most critical
fixed in all 3 dimensions. Loads were defined by the refer- sections for crack initiation and propagation are defined from
ence point of an analytic rigid surface at the place where stress profiles. The highest stress σ22 is 135 MPa on the sur-
the second bearing is attached to the axle pin. The reference face of the axle pin in the region of the detected defects, as
point lies in the centre on the y‐axis of the cut surface. The shown in Figure 2B.
most critical design loading case (DLC) 7.1c50 was obtained The equivalent von Mises stresses are much lower than
by the Bladed20 software for wind‐turbine design. The soft- the yield stress. Figure 7 shows all the above‐mentioned
ware performed calculations of the 12 prescribed load cases stresses and the equivalent von Mises stress field at the

FIGURE 7 The equivalent stress field and

functions of the equivalent and coordinate
stress fields are plotted for the most critical
loading case: Mx = 514.3 kNm,
My = 2064.9 kNm, Mz = −453.9 kNm,
Fx = 101.3 kN, Fy = −34.1 kN, and
Fz = −329.5 kN. [Colour figure can be
viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]

FIGURE 8 The various stress distribution

functions through the wall thickness at the
most critical section. [Colour figure can be
viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]

critical location. The most critical crack opening‐bending the second set consists of the loading distribution, and the
stress σ22 appears on the upper surface of the axle pin. The third set is the position and size of the flaws.
crack opening stress is 135 MPa on the surface and on the During inspection, the defects are detected within the
inner surface −10 MPa in compression; therefore, the total region of the geometrical change of the axle pin. The position
stress amplitude is 145 MPa. The distribution of the σ22 stress and size of the detected crack in the critical section of the axle
throughout the thickness represents the crack opening stress pin are schematically shown in Figure 9A. The idealized
and is relevant for the structural integrity assessment using unique surface crack in the most critical region, due to con-
the mentioned procedures, such as FITNET.2 servatism, can be considered by the FITNET2 procedure, as
shown in Figure 9B. Per the FITNET2 procedure, it is allow-
able to assume and perform the assessment for the worst‐case
crack geometry. This conservative approach leads to conser-
3.1 | Description of the applied assessment
vative results. An idealization of the crack geometry is shown
in Figure 9B, where a = 20 mm is the crack depth and 150° is
The structural integrity assessment procedure is based on 3 the radial surface crack length. The wind‐power turbine's axle
sets of input data. The first set represents the mechanical pin is loaded by bending, as 2 bearings are mounted onto the
properties and the fracture toughness of the cast material, pin, shown schematically in Figure 1. Therefore, the bearings

FIGURE 9 A, The critical section of the axle pin with the position and size of the crack. B, The idealized unique surface crack in the most critical

on the pin ensure rotation of the hub with a direct drive to the stress, considering the crack size and loading manner
direct current generator, while on the axle pin, the stator FITNET.2
generator was fixed, as shown in Figure 1. Reference stress takes into account the bending moment
The stress intensity factor is calculated via Equation 2 at yielding stress defined as
4 ⋅M Y
pffiffiffiffiffiffiffi  a  σ ref ¼ (7)
K I ¼ σ⋅ π⋅a⋅Y ; β ; (2) T ⋅ π ⋅ ðR o þ R i Þ2
where T is the thickness of the axle pin, Y(a/T,β) is the stress
intensity function, a/T is the crack depth ratio, β is the surface 
2 βa a
crack length in radians, and σ is the principal opening load, MY ¼ TðRo −Ri Þ ⋅ cos − sin β ⋅σ Y (8)
2T 2T
obtained by FE modelling. The stress intensity function for
a hollow thick tube is available in the compendia of the stress where T = 69.8 mm is the thickness, Ro = 355.05 mm is the
intensity factors for FITNET7 procedure. outside diameter, and Ri = 285.25 mm is the inside diameter
" of the axle pin. Plastic collapse at the base of the FITNET7
a a β 0:565 procedure is obtained by
Y ; β ¼ 1:1 þ −0:09967 þ 5:0057⋅ ⋅
T T T π  
 # 1 R p0:2 þ Rm
Lmax ¼ ⋅ (9)
a β r
2 Rp0:2
−2:8329 ⋅ ⋅ (3)
T π
where Rp0.2 and Rm are the yield stress and the ultimate ten-
The distribution of the crack opening stress along the axle sile stress, respectively (see Table 1). In the FITNET proce-
is shown in Figure 8. This loading corresponds to the highest dure, the failure assessment curve‐FAC is defined for
permitted loading in the design of the wind‐power turbine. materials with continuous hardening by
Figure 8 shows that the highest stresses appear within the  −12 h
1 i
region of detected defects. In structural integrity analysis, fðLr Þ ¼ 1 þ L2r ⋅ 0:3 þ 0:7⋅e−μ⋅Lr for 0 ≤ Lr ≤ 1

the relevant stress is the crack's opening stress (mode I) σy. 2

It corresponds to the σ22 stress, as shown in Figure 8. (10)
The stress intensity function KI is normalized by the frac-
ture toughness Kmat of material, to obtain the normalized where
crack driving force Kr 8 9
< 0:001 ⋅ E =
KI μ ¼ min Rp0:2 (11)
Kr ¼ (4) : ;
K mat 0:6

where KI increases by the applied load and crack length and

according to Equation 2. N−1

The fracture toughness of the material f ðLr Þ ¼ f ðLr ¼ 1Þ⋅Lr 2⋅N for 1 ≤ Lr ≤ Lmax
r : (12)
Kmat = KIQ = 193 MPa m½ was obtained as the minimum
The strain hardening exponent N is given by the empirical
of all 3 specimens as prescribed by ASTM E‐1820 standard
testing. In the case of ductile fracture, the fracture toughness
of the material is usually expressed in the J integral or the Rp0:2
crack tip opening value crack tip opening displacement = δ: N ¼ 0:3⋅ 1 þ (13)
rffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi rffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi
J mat ⋅E Rp 0:2 ⋅ δmat ⋅E The axle pin is the most critical component within a wind
K mat ¼ ¼ : (5)
1− ν2 1− ν2 turbine regarding safety because a fail‐safe design is not
available. The failure assessment diagram has been plotted
The normalized load Lr for the FITNET procedure is by applying Equation 10 for the failure assessment curve ver-
defined as sus the normalized load Lr (Equation 6). The normalized
M b σ ref crack driving force Kr (Equation 4) increases with applied
Lr ¼ ¼ ; (6) load and crack length by using Equation 2.
The critical loading capacity of the idealized crack
where My is the limit of the bending moment when yielding (a = 20, β = 150°) is obtained as the intersection point
the rest of the noncracked ligament and σref is the referenced between the normalized crack driving force Kr and the failure

assessment curve f(Lr), as shown in Figure 10. The crack TABLE 3 Critical crack surface length regarding to admissable
angle β = 150° is kept constant because the axle pin is bending stress at constant crack depth a ¼ 20 mm
subjected to bending (without rotation); therefore, the crack Surface Surface Crack Maximum Admissable
is going to propagate preferentially in depth, rather than Length Angle Bending Stress
longitudinally. The normalized load contains 1 value at each l (mm) β (°) σx, N/mm2
intersection point. Therefore, the corresponding value of the 5 0.8° 583
applied bending moment Mb is known if the limit bending 40 6.45° 557
moment MY is calculated. 120 19.36° 530
To estimate the remaining load bearing capacity, it is 200 32.27° 507
possible to repeat the same procedure for different crack
400 64.54° 470
sizes. The limit of the bending moment is determined for
600 96° 450
different surface crack lengths, ie, the angle β. Table 3
935 150° 440
shows the values for the maximum carrying capacities
regarding different surface crack lengths for a constant crack
depth of a = 20 mm. crack length is possible to estimate by using the FITNET2
Usually the SF for a wind turbine is 2.10 Per the FITNET procedure by simulation of an increasing crack depth (under
structural integrity procedure, it is possible to estimate the a constant β = 150°). It has been found that the critical crack
maximum bending stress for 2 different crack depths depth is ac = 56.6 mm (a/T = 0.81) for Δσ22 = 145 MPa, as
(a = 20 and 50 mm under a constant crack angle β = 150°). shown in Figure 12. Consequently, by decreasing the stress
Figure 2 shows that for SF = 2, the maximum allowed bend- Δσ22, the critical crack depth increases.
ing stresses are 238 and 88 MPa for crack depths of 20 and Therefore, the results show that the crack can propagate
50 mm, respectively. According to the FITNET structural from an initial size of a = 20 mm up to the critical crack
integrity procedure, we performed at structural integrity depth ac = 56.6 mm under the cyclic stress of
assessment on an axle pin with multiple cracks within a crit- Δσ22 = 145 MPa. The initial crack size of 20 mm is signifi-
ical section. In the DLC 7.1c50, the distribution of stresses cant; however, even such a crack, if it stays hidden, will not
throughout the wall thickness at the most critical section influence the projected static bearing strength of the axle
was obtained and is shown in Figure 8. The maximum bend- pin, as the bearing strength is still more than twice the
ing (crack opening) stress in the detected defect area is projected value. The potential hazard is the formation of a
145 MPa. The found flaws are not critical for the beginning fatigue crack from such a defect, which grows to critical size
of the wind turbine service because the estimated points during operation/loading cycles.
remain in the safe area reduced by the SF = 2, as is shown The design procedures prescribed the design loading con-
in Figure 11. The results also show that the final collapse of ditions of the component, the so‐called fatigue design load
the axle pin appears at a significant fatigue crack size. To fol- with a cumulative number of cycles, which the axle pin
low the SF of present defect, the on‐line monitoring system is should survive in the 20 years of a safe service lifetime.10
recommended for the critical area of an axle pin. The critical The loading conditions in 20 years are prescribed by the

FIGURE 10 Failure assessment diagram

plot for the axle with a crack a ¼ 20 mm and
a surface crack length β = 150°. [Colour
figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.

FIGURE 11 Change variation of the

loading curve as a function of increasing
crack depth from a = 20 to 50 mm for a
constant crack angle β = 150°. [Colour figure
can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]

FIGURE 12 Determination of the critical

crack depth ac (under constant surface crack
length β = 150°) and the constant crack
opening stress Δσ22 = 145 MPa. [Colour
figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.

loading cases regarding wind region and conditions.10 This loading amplitude (with a loading ratio of R = −1). The
curve is shown in Figure 13 by the black step line, where structural integrity damage curve was obtained by consider-
the highest number of cycles to survive corresponds to a min- ing a cumulative number of cycles to failure. Therefore, the
imum stress amplitude Δσ22 = 10 MPa for a loading ratio of structural integrity damage curve was obtained in the same
R = −1 and the maximum stress amplitude does not over- manner as the design loading curve. The design loading
come Δσ22 = 205 MPa (R = −1). Consequently, the number curve consists of a cumulative number of cycles for the cor-
of survived cycles for a shorter lifetime is proportional to the responding stress amplitude and represents the required
number of cycles, while the stress amplitude remains the number of cycles for 20 year survival. The yellow dot points
same. For an example, see the 6 year survival curve in red, in Figure 13 represent the result of the integrated cumulative
shown in Figure 13. number of cycles. The points of the maximum number of
The parameters of the fatigue crack growth rate in the cycles do not reach the design line for a 20 year lifetime.
form of the Paris‐Erdogan relationship are experimentally Because the red line crosses the points, it corresponds to a
determined, as shown in Figure 5. lifetime limit of the axle pin with the detected defects. It
To determine the number of cycles to failure for different was found that, in the region of a stress amplitude of
amplitude crack opening stresses, the integration of the σ22 = 50 to 70 MPa, the design line for 6 years of operation
Paris‐Erdogan relationship (Equation 1) was performed. time will be necessary that the crack grows from the detected
The integration is based on the individual constant stress size to the critical depth.

FIGURE 13 The design loading curve

with the required number of loading cycles
for a 20 year lifetime versus the estimated
number of cycles to critical crack depth for
different loading amplitudes Δσ22 (with a
loading rate R = −1). [Colour figure can be
viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]

4 | CONCLUSION the detected flaws is not appropriate without an established

SHM system.
In the present paper, we demonstrate a structural integrity In this work, we show that the standard procedure of
approach incorporating the determination of the maximum determining the maximum load capacity and the critical
sustained loading capacity, the determination of the critical crack length estimate the initial defect as acceptable. When
crack length or depth, and the remaining lifetime of the com- additionally considering the fatigue design curve and the
ponent by using the fatigue design loading curve. Experimen- spectra of different dynamic loading amplitudes, we obtain
tally obtained mechanical properties have been used to find a lifetime much shorter than projected. Our comprehensive
the maximum loading capacity and critical crack depth approach shows that, for ensuring structural integrity, the
(under a constant surface crack angle β = 150°) because the determination of critical crack lengths and numbers of cycles
axle pin is exposed to bending stress(es) and the crack prefer- must be performed for different loading amplitudes, as the
entially propagates through depth rather than along the sur- maximum loading amplitude is not necessarily critical for
face. The results of the analysis show that the maximum the service lifetime if an SHM system will be applied.
static loading capacity of the loaded component with an
existing crack is higher than the maximum design load. The
obtained results show that the detected flaw sizes are still
acceptable regarding the integrity of the structure. Even the 1. Brglez Š, Dolšak B. A necessity‐based method for product requirement
estimated points remain in the region determined by an SF elicitation and classification. Trans FAMENA. 2016;40(1): 87–110.
of 2. The results also show that a maximum critical crack size 2. FITNET, European fitness‐for‐service network, Proposal No.
of ac = 56.6 mm for a stress loading amplitude GTC1‐2001‐43049, Contract No. GIRT‐CT‐2001‐05071, www.
Δσ22 = 145 MPa and loading ratio R = −1 is significant com- eurofitnet.org
pared with the detected defect size a = 20 mm, which means
that fatigue crack growth analysis can be applied. 3. Kegl M, Harl B. Topology optimization using nonlinear finite ele-
ments and control‐point‐based parameterization. Int J Nonlinear
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