Tensile armour layers in unbonded flexible pipes are constructed by the parallel helical wrapping of several rectangular wires. Pairs of layers, wound in opposite directions and with different helical shapes are used to provide the necessary axial strength, water depth capacity and torsion balance.

The forming of armour wires as supplied by the vendor into a helix shape on the pipe involves significant plastic straining; twisting and repeated bending of the wires in different planes. The wires that are wrapped on the pipe are not unloaded. Therefore the armour wires in flexible pipes are considered to contain residual stress (RS). Knowledge of RS in the wires of the manufactured pipe is essential in making appropriate design decisions with high confidence to meet material utilization requirements and subsequently predict the integrity and fatigue durability of the pipe.

This paper describes an investigation performed to examine the evolution of RS in the tensile wires during various stages of the pipe manufacturing process. To this end, different methods including a relatively simple and inexpensive stress relaxation method termed the contour method, as well as diffraction methods were used to evaluate RS in the wire.

A finite element (FE) model has been developed to simulate the wire deformation involved in the pipe manufacturing process. The procedure was used to predict the evolution of RS in a tensile wire and change in material response during the pipe manufacturing process. A comparison of FE model predictions and measured data is given.

The results show that the RS measured by the contour method give comparable values to those obtained from more advanced methods such as high energy synchrotron X-ray and neutron diffraction. The need for using representative material properties and deformation boundary conditions in FE models to predict RS accurately is highlighted.

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