The determination of the fully plastic response and pressure limit of a pressure vessel is of considerable importance in design, especially in autofrettage considerations. This paper presents the results of an experimental study which measured the maximum internal pressure which can be applied to thick-walled cylindrical vessels. Both aluminum and steel, with material properties ranging from ductile to brittle, were tested at stress levels through plastic and strain hardening ranges to fracture. From these tests, the pressure-expansion and through-thickness yielding characteristics were determined for these specimens. It is shown that a strain-to-failure criterion, based on the triaxiality of stress in the critical region, can be used to predict the complete pressure versus strain relations and maximum pressure for these cylinders. A simple tension-true stress-strain relation of the material is employed to analytically predict the response of the cylinder into the plastic regime. Finally, simplified theoretical and empirical formulas for bursting pressures are checked against the experimental results.

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