Net-section stress at the ligament between component free surface and subsurface flaw increases when the ligament distance is short. It can be easily expected that stress intensity factors increase when the subsurface flaw locates near the free surface. To avoid catastrophic failures caused by ligament failure, fitness-for-service (FFS) codes provide flaw-to-surface proximity rules. The proximity rules are used to determine whether the flaws should be treated as subsurface flaws as-is, or transformed to surface flaws. The stress intensity factor for the transformed surface flaw increases furthermore. The increment of the stress intensity factor before and after transformation depends on the location of the subsurface flaw.

Although the concept of the proximity rules are the same, the specific criteria for the rules on transforming subsurface flaws to surface flaws differ amongst FFS codes. Particularly, the criteria are different amongst the same organizations of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers).

The proximity criteria of the FFS codes in the world were introduced in this paper. In addition, the stress intensity factors based on the different criteria used in the ASME Codes are compared.

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