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Residual stress

Residual stresses are stresses that remain after the original cause of the stresses (external forces, heat gradient) has been removed. They remain along a cross section of the component, even without the external cause. Residual stresses occur for a variety of reasons, including inelastic deformations and heat treatment. Heat from welding may cause localized expansion, which is taken up during welding by either the molten metal or the placement of parts being welded. When the finished weldment cools, some areas cool and contract more than others, leaving residual stresses. Castings may also have large residual stresses due to uneven cooling.

While uncontrolled residual stresses are undesirable, many designs rely on them. For example, toughened glass and pre-stressed concrete depend on them to prevent brittle failure. Similarly, a gradient in martensite formation leaves residual stress in some swords with particularly hard edges (notably the katana), which can prevent the opening of edge cracks. In certain types of gun barrels made with two tubes forced together, the inner tube is compressed while the outer tube stretches, preventing cracks from opening in the rifling when the gun is fired. Parts are often heated or dunked in liquid nitrogen to aid assembly.

Press fits are the most common intentional use of residual stress. Automotive wheel studs, for example are pressed into holes on the wheel hub. The holes are smaller than the studs, requiring force to drive the studs into place. The residual stresses fasten the parts together. Nails are another example.

See also


  • Cary, Howard B. and Scott C. Helzer (2005). Modern Welding Technology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education. ISBN 0-13-113029-3.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Residual_stress". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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