Elastic-plastic fracture toughness and fatigue crack growth resistance of full penetration butt welds were experimentally investigated. The obtained results were used to predict the critical crack size and the time to structural collapse of weld joints typically adopted in tubular towers of windmills. For this purpose, heavy in-service loading conditions were considered. In this way, it was possible to quantify the minimum crack size that shall be detected by a structural health monitoring system, in order to maintain the structure within a reasonable time interval.
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