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File: PVE-5522, Last Updated: Aug.

21, 2012, LRB

How do ASME permissible fatigue curves compare to actual fatigue life results? Can they be used to predict the expected
life of equipment?
The graph below is the original data used to create the ASME permissible fatigue life curve for carbon steel alloys[1,2,3].
The black line is the best fit curve though the original data points. I traced the Table 3.F.1 permissible cycle life stress
values, the red line, onto the original graph.
The ASME permissible curve is obtained from the original data by adding the following factors of safety: Each point is
either 1/2 the value of the original curve best fit (solid black line) or 1/20th the cycle life [Ref 1, page 19]. See the green
markups below:
ASME Fatigue Life Curves
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The 20x safety factor on cycles equals (2x for data scatter) x (2.5x for size effects) x (4x for surface finish and
environment) [Ref 1, page 37]. The actual data for the point chosen above - 110 permissible cycles at 200,000 psi has
stress divided by 4 (800,000 psi on the graph) and cycles divided by 26 (2860 cycles). Further, when dealing with welds,
an additional factor of up to 4x is removed from the permissible cycle life to account for increased stresses inside the
weld [4].
These ASME curves are not useful for predicting the cycle life of equipment. They are used to specify a permissible design
life which includes a factor of safety.
Future topic: When the stress on a FEA model can be directly read, a permissible cycle life can be specified that provides
the above mentioned large factor of safety. For areas of the model that have discontinuities, the stresses cannot be
directly read (these are areas where the error plot has not converged to %5 - sharp notches, weld toes, etc.).
Approximation methods are used for these areas which reduces some of the factor of safety.
Laurence Brundrett, P. Eng.
ASME Fatigue Life Curves
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President, Pressure Vessel Engineering Ltd.
Aug 1 2012
[1]Fatigue Design of Process Equipment, ASME Plant Engineering & Maintenance Technical Chapter, March 12, 2009,
Chris Hinnant, Paulin Research Group, Houston, TX . See pages 20 and 37
[2]STP770 - Low-Cycle Fatigue and Life Prediction, Amzallag C, Leis BN, Rabbe P, Published: 1982
[4]ASME VIII-2 2010 ed., 2011 add. Table 5.11 - Weld Surface Fatigue-Strength-Reduction Factors
2014 Pressure Vessel Engineering Ltd.
ASME Fatigue Life Curves
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