There are generally two reasons for conducting full-scale tests (FSTs) for the measurement of pipe or weld strain capacity,
to generate data useful in verifying the accuracy of a strain capacity prediction model, or
to test materials being considered for use.
The former case involves exploring variables important to the scope of the model, while the latter involves project specific materials and girth weld procedures often combined with upper bound cases of weld misalignment. Because the challenge of strain-based design is relatively new, FSTs should be used for both reasons cited above.
This paper provides observations, lessons learned, and recommendations regarding full-scale pipe strain capacity tests. This information has been developed through the conduct, witness, or review of 159 FSTs. One of the most important aspects of full-scale testing is the preparation of welded pipe test specimens. It is imperative that the specimens be fabricated with materials of known properties and that all possible measures be taken to limit variations from the intended specimen design. It has been observed that unexpected results are often due to irregularities in pipe material strength, weld strength, weld toughness, or the presence of unintended weld defects in a specimen designed to contain just man-made defects. Post-test fractography and metallurgical examination are very useful in explaining the performance of a FST; therefore, aspects of failure analysis are discussed.