The autofrettage process of a thick walled pressure vessel involves applying tensile plastic strain at the bore of the vessel which reverses during unloading and results in favorable compressive residual stresses at the bore and prolongs the fatigue life of the component. In thick walled pressure vessels this process can be accomplished with either a hydraulic or mechanical overloading process. The Bauschinger effect, which is observed in many of the materials used in thick walled pressure vessels, is a phenomenon which results in lower compressive residual stresses than those predicted with classic ideal isotropic hardening. The phenomenon is a strong function of the amount of prior tensile plastic strain. A novel idea which involves a multiple autofrettage process has been proposed by the present authors. This process requires a low temperature post autofrettage thermal treatment which effectively returns the material to its original yield conditions without affecting its residual stress state. Details of this low temperature thermal treatment are proprietary. A subsequent second autofrettage process generates a significantly lower amount of plastic strain during the tensile re-loading and results in higher compressive residual stresses. This paper reports the details of exploratory tests involving tensile and compressive loading of a test coupon, followed by a low temperature post plastic straining thermal treatment, and subsequent re-loading in tension and compression. Finally results of a full scale Safe Maximum Pressure (SMP) test of pressure vessels are presented; these tests indicate a significant increase (11%) in SMP.

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