For fatigue assessment of a welded structure, an important characteristic is the failure location. The fatigue crack begins from the pre-existing crack-like flaw which is an inherent feature of a weld toe or root. Residual stress in the welded joints is another important characteristic. It is also well known that tensile residual stress in welded structures can be as high as the material yield strength level and so the fatigue strength of the welded joint is governed by the applied stress range regardless of the applied load ratio. However, when the presumed conditions with high tensile residual stress in the weld regime are not satisfied, the fatigue behavior in welded structure deviates from the general weld fatigue behavior.

In this paper, firstly the applied load ratio effect on fatigue behavior is investigated for two different residual stress levels of welds, i.e., as-welded and stress relieved. It has been observed that stress-relieving effect of welds is apparent when the applied loading introduces stress fluctuations in compressive loading. When the load ratio effect is considered in Battelle structural stress based fatigue parameter, the stress relieved weld fatigue data was consolidated within the master S-N curve.

Based on this investigation, the Battelle structural stress based effective load ratio considering both applied loading and detailed residual stress is introduced for the weld fatigue behavior. The two-stage crack growth model is reformulated with the structural stress based effective load ratio, which is a function of crack length.

Lastly, a fatigue life prediction procedure incorporating residual stress effect is proposed and validated using the existing fatigue test results. The proposed procedure clearly shows that the compressive residual stress distributions at the weld prone to crack provide great benefits for fatigue life improvement.

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