Current fatigue analyses of metallic structures undergoing variable amplitude loading, including pressure vessels, are mostly based on linear cumulative damage concepts, as proposed by Palmgren and Miner. This type of analysis neglects any sequential effects of the loading history. Several studies have shown that linear cumulative damage theories can produce inconsistent fatigue life predictions. In this paper, both fatigue damage accumulation and cyclic elastoplastic behaviors of the P355NL1 steel are characterized, using block loading fatigue tests. The loading is composed by blocks of constant strain-controlled amplitudes, applied according to two and multiple alternate blocks sequences. Also, loading composed by blocks of variable strain-controlled amplitudes are investigated. The block loading illustrates that fatigue damage evolves nonlinearly with the number of load cycles, as a function of the block strain amplitudes. These observations suggest a nonlinear damage accumulation rule with load sequential effects for the P355NL1 steel. However, the damage accumulation nonlinearity and load sequential effects are more evident for the two block loading rather than for multiple alternate block sequences, which suggests that the linear Palmgren-Miner’s rule tend to produce better results for more irregular loading histories. Some phenomenological interpretations for the observed trends are discussed under a fracture mechanics framework.

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