Non-destructive inspection records have to be characterized before evaluation of acceptance if they are evaluated as material or fabrication flaws. When multiple flaws are detected by volumetric examination, the question of interacting flaws arises if they are close to each other: can the conventional approach based on individual flaw be applied?

Alternative flaw characterization requirements may be applied in lieu of using current codes by considering recent fracture mechanics research. In order to relax the conservatism of current interaction criteria, specific work was performed to describe interaction rules for flaws located in different planes. The proximity criteria are valid for linear elastic or limited elastic plastic material behavior : this is generally the case in large components.

This paper presents the technical basis including validation of the proximity criteria based on a specific component with several flaws and considering 3D numerical modeling using elastic-plastic material behavior in order to check if the plastic material behavior affects the selected proximity criteria. The component is submitted to uniform (pressure) and non-uniform loading (like thermal shock).

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