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A new procedure is proposed to determine sub-surface residual stress gradients by laboratory X-ray diffraction measurements at different depths using a chemical layer-removal technique. The standard correction algorithm for stress relaxation due to layer removal is improved by including corrections for X-ray absorption, and by the addition of constraints imposed by the mechanical equilibrium conditions. Besides correcting the data, i.e. providing more reliable through-thickness residual stress trends, the proposed procedure also provides an elastically compatible and plausible estimate of the residual stress inside the component, well beyond the measured region. The application of the model is illustrated for a set of Al-alloy components shot-peened at different Almen intensities. Results are compared with those given by `blind hole drilling', which is an independent and partly destructive method.

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