Crack growth by low-cycle fatigue is a potential failure mechanism for welded pressure vessels. Residual stresses remaining from fabrication or caused by localized plastic deformation incurred in shakedown can result in operating stress cycles approaching fully-reversed tension-compression. However, virtually all of the fatigue crack propagation data reported in the literature for structural alloys are generated under simple, zero-tension cycling, and their direct application to such problems is questionable. This paper presents the results of a study which shows that the compression portion of fully-reversed tension-compression cycling can contribute substantially to fatigue crack growth rates in plate thickness medium-to-high strength alloys. Data from several alloys show a 50 percent increase in fatigue crack growth rates due to tension-compression cycling. The implications of these findings and methods for applying the results of this study are discussed.

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