A three-dimensional finite element analysis is developed for the cold expansion process in two aluminum alloys, 2024-T351 and 7050-T7451. The entire cold working process including hole expansion, elastic recovery, and finish reaming is simulated. Both isotropic hardening and kinematic hardening models are considered in the numerical calculations. The results suggest that a three-dimensional nature exists in the residual stress fields surrounding the hole. There are significant differences in residual stresses at different sections through the thickness. However, residual stress at the surface is shown to remain the same for the different plastic hardening models after the hole has recovered and finish reaming has been performed. The reaming of the material around the hole has slight effect on the maximum value and distribution of residual stresses. A comparison has been drawn between the FEA of average through thickness strain and a previous experimental investigation of strain that utilized neutron diffraction and modified Sachs boring on a 7050 aluminum specimen containing a cold expanded hole. The different methods show very good agreement in the magnitude of strain as well as the general trend. The conclusions obtained here are beneficial to the understanding of the phenomenon of fatigue crack initiation and growth at the perimeter of cold worked holes.

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