The present work aims to evaluate the microstructural mechanisms associated with the initiation of fatigue damage of steels used in the petroleum industry. Microdeformations and residual stresses (macrostresses) are evaluated by X-ray diffraction in real time during alternating bending fatigue tests performed on samples taken from an API 5L X60 grade steel pipe. Samples under two different conditions are considered: as-machined and annealed. Microdeformations and residual stresses are estimated from measurements of the full width at half maximum (FWHM) and displacement of the diffraction peak, respectively. The evolution of microdeformations shows three distinct stages (Stages 1–3). Increasing stress amplitude accentuates variations in FWHM and reduces the duration of each stage. Similar variations are observed for the residual stresses. The results from annealed samples allow the comprehension of the role of the initial structure. Changes in the density and distribution of dislocations are observed by transmission electron microscopy using the technique of focused ion beam. Cyclic uniaxial tests are carried out in order to evaluate the material behavior, in both as-machined and annealed conditions, under cyclic loadings. The cyclic material behavior is correlated to the evolution of microdeformations observed during the fatigue bending tests.

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