This paper discusses the use of methods derived from fracture-mechanics for the assessment of stress concentrations in components. It is known that some sharp notches can be modelled as cracks, their fatigue limits corresponding to the threshold value for a crack of the same length. Using this methodology for the assessment of components gives rise to two problems. The first problem concerns geometry: real stress concentrations have complex shape and cannot be modelled as notches of simple profile. The second problem concerns notch size: can short notches be modelled in the same way as short cracks? An approach has been developed which is an extension of the well-known critical-distance concept. It can be applied to both cracks and notches and takes into account the size effect. This has been tested using data from specimens containing short cracks and circular notches of various sizes; it has also been successfully applied to the analysis of a component in service.
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