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In contrast to the inherent cyclic rod stress that occurs in beam pumping, the rod stresses in PCP applications tend to be relatively constant. As a result, the effective rod stresses may approach the yield stress of the rod material without causing failures in PCP applications, although fatigue induced by bending is an issue in directional and horizontal wells (see below). The minimum yield stress for Grade D sucker rods is 690 MPa [100 ksi], although several manufacturers also offer higher-strength grades with [[Glossary:Yield strength|yield strengths ]] up to 860 MPa [125 ksi]. For continuous-rod products, the minimum yield stress typically ranges from 586 MPa [85 ksi] at the low end to 790 MPa [115 ksi] for the higher-strength materials. The most common continuous-rod size is 25.4 mm [1.0 in.].
In PCP system design, rod loading should be evaluated for the full range of anticipated operating conditions to ensure that the selected rod string will have adequate capacity. It is advisable to use at least a 20% safety factor in rod sizing. This will allow for unanticipated torque increases that might be brought about by such factors as sand slugs, stator swelling, or startup friction. In addition, it will provide a margin of safety in the case of rod-strength reductions caused by rod-body wear or corrosion damage. Note that a 20% decrease in rod diameter can produce a 100% increase in rod stress and a 50% reduction in the load capacity of the rod.
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