The neutron diffraction (ND) technique was used to characterise residual stress fields in thin rectangular beam specimens containing residual stresses induced thermo-mechanically by partial quenching. Two types of material were considered, type 316H stainless steel and A533B ferritic steel. The work was motivated by a need to investigate the influence of residual stress on the fracture behaviour of steels. During quenching, specimens experienced a severe temperature gradient which induced thermal stresses resulting in plastic strains and a subsequent residual stress field. An extensive finite element (FE) analysis was undertaken to predict the residual stress following thermo-mechanical loading. It was shown that partial quenching generated a considerable residual stress field in 316H stainless steel. However, the level of residual stresses in the A533B steel specimens was lower than that 316H stainless steel specimens. There was acceptable agreement between the finite element simulations and measurements with simulations generally predicting higher tensile residual stresses following partial quenching than those measured in the 316H stainless steel, and lower tensile residual stresses than those measured in the A533B ferritic steel.

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