The development of finite element analysis, in terms of simulation power and theoretical model accuracy, enables one to understand and simulate industrial processes more precisely, especially those involving non linear behaviour and analysis. Reeled pipe technology is one of these, and has a lot to gain from this increasing efficiency. In the reel-lay process the pipe is first reeled onto a drum on a vessel for transportation. During offshore installation the pipe is unreeled, straightened and deployed into the sea. During the process, the pipe is fully and cyclically plastified. Plastification modifies the pipe properties, which is not by itself detrimental but should be understood by the designer. Pipe properties are affected in three ways: geometrical shape – reeling and straightening induce some residual ovalisation; mechanical properties – yield stress, hardening slope, isotropy are modified; and fatigue properties. Technip and IFP have studied these property evolutions for many years, both from an experimental and a numerical point of view. The present paper discusses the first two points. A wide experimental programme has been performed. Full scale pipes were reeled and straightened on a bending rig device especially built for that purpose. Pipe ovalisation was monitored through the whole process. Pipe mechanical properties were also fully characterised in the pipe axial, hoop and thickness directions, both in tension and compression, before and after reeling process. Extruded and UOE pipes were tested and characterised. Pipe initial properties are dependent on the manufacturing process but they are modified by the reeling process. Reeling induces some anisotropy that cannot be properly accounted for by usual plasticity models. Finite element simulations with Abaqus software, using the material behaviour of unreeled pipe, underestimate stiffness evolution in the hoop direction and overestimate ovalisation induced by the reeling process. Anisotropy has indeed a great effect on ovalisation that results from an interaction between axial and hoop loading. Hardening is also a key parameter. A new plasticity model has been written in an Abaqus User Material Model, known as UMAT. The new model is based on an anisotropic Hill criterion and special attention is paid to the hardening. This new model reduces by more than two the error on ovality estimation, and gives a realistic prediction of material anisotropy evolution through the process. Although, the tuning of the model coefficients is more complex than for usual models, its use is quite straightforward and does not increase computation time.

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