National Physical Laboratory

The measurement of residual stresses by the incremental hole drilling technique.

Grant, P V, Lord, J D, Whitehead, P S*
Measurement Good Practice Guide No. 53, 2006
NPL Doc. Ref:
PDB: 3260
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Note: An asterisk after an author's name indicates a non-NPL author.


Residual stresses can be defined as those stresses that remain in a body after manufacturing or processing in the absence of external forces or thermal gradients. Virtually all manufacturing and fabricating processes introduce residual stresses into the manufactured article and extreme service loading may also change the state of residual stress in the component. The effects of residual stress may be either beneficial or detrimental, depending upon the sign, magnitude and distribution of the stress. For improved process and product control, design, performance and modelling it is increasingly important to have rigorous experimental procedures to determine the residual stresses to the best possible accuracy.A wide variety of residual stress measurement techniques exist, but hole drilling is one of the most widely used. It is relatively simple, inexpensive, quick and versatile, and can be both laboratory-based and portable. However, achieving high quality, accurate stress data is not trivial. This guide provides both the inexperienced user and the expert with a practical guide to achieving better measurements. It draws together some background to the technique, discusses the current standards and highlights a number of key issues crucial to obtaining a good measurement, based on input from UK experts and some of the findings from a recent UK hole drilling residual stress intercomparison exercise. The currently available residual stress data analysis techniques are discussed, and a comprehensive bibliography of key references is included together with some information and links to UK hole drilling contacts and to relevant web sites, providing the reader with a valuable resource for further reading.

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