The Good, The Bad and the Autofrettage: The Ugly Side of Aging LDPE Equipment
Bottles, tubing, plastic bags — the world can’t seem to get enough of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). However, despite its innocuous day job, LDPE requires a surprisingly formidable production process. With pressures routinely exceeding 20 ksi, asset integrity is both crucial and tricky. To account for this, high-pressure components (typically thick-walled tubes) in the LDPE process are often autofrettaged to mitigate the risk of crack initiation and growth. Autofrettage is the deliberate pressurization of a new component with an internal pressure large enough to plastically deform a small band of material at its inner diameter, leaving behind a beneficial compressive residual stress on the inner surface that suppresses crack initiation and growth.
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