High responsibility components operating under cyclic loading can have their resistance against initiation and growth of fatigue cracks highly influenced by previous thermomechanical processing. Within the interest of the present work, different manufacturing processes and installation techniques incorporate cold plastic straining to engineering structures; two typical examples on the oil and gas fields are: i) the offshore pipelines installation method called reeling; ii) the fabrication of pipes using the UOE method and pressure vessels through calendering. Within this scenario, this work investigates the effects of plastic prestrain on the fatigue crack growth rates (da/dN vs. ΔK) of a hot-rolled ASTM A36 steel. Different from previous results from the literature, in which prestrains were applied directly to machined samples, in this work uniform prestraining was imposed to steel strips (1/2” thick) and specimens were then extracted to avoid (or minimize) residual stress effects. Prestrain levels were around 4, 8 and 14% and C(T) specimens were machined from original and prestrained materials according to ASTM E647 standard. Fatigue crack growth tests were carried out under load control in an MTS 810 (250 kN) equipment using R = 0.1. Results revealed that plastic prestraining considerably reduced crack growth rates for the studied material, which was expected based on the literature and hardening behavior of the studied material. However, results also revealed two interesting trends: i) the larger is the imposed prestrain, the greater is the growth rate reduction in a nonlinear asymptotic relationship; ii) the larger is imposed ΔK, the more pronounced is the effect of prestraining. Crack closure effects were also investigated, but revealed no influence on the obtained mechanical properties. Consequently, results could be critically discussed based on effective crack driving forces and elastic-plastic mechanical properties, in special those related to flow and hardening. The conclusions and success of the employed methods encourage further efforts to incorporate plastic prestrain effects on structural integrity assessments.

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