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J Fail. Anal. and Preven. (2009) 9:8187 DOI 10.



Classical Fatigue Design Techniques as a Failure Analysis Tool

Dean Harris T. Jur

Submitted: 7 November 2008 / Accepted: 18 November 2008 / Published online: 6 January 2009 ASM International 2008

Abstract The classical method for designing against high-cycle fatigue fracture is based primarily on statistical models derived from laboratory experimental data. This paper considers a number of actual fatigue failures where the analyses of the failures, in part, made use of classical high-cycle fatigue resistance design methodology as an analytical tool. This paper uses failure analyses to demonstrate that the long-taught classical methodology is useful and accurate as both a design and an analysis tool. The usefulness and accuracy of the method is veried in that it is shown to have predicted actual failures, given known materials, manufacturing histories, and service operating conditions. Example analyses include: a fatiguecracked roll from a paper-making machine, a fractured anvil on a steam powered forge, and a fractured shaft on a helical ribbon dryer. Keywords Fatigue Fracture High-Cycle Fatigue

actual in-service behavior of manufactured parts. As consultants in failure analysis for a combined ve decades, the authors have had many opportunities to examine actual fatigue fracture situations and to analyze the fractures in accordance with classical fatigue design methods. In every case in which sufcient data were available to conduct a load/life fatigue design analysis, the classical methods predicted the fracture. This paper presents an overview of classical fatigue design methods and then discusses the application of those methods to three fatigue fracture situations, demonstrating that the classical methods predict the fractures that actually occurred.

Classical Fatigue Design The use of classical fatigue design techniques in the analysis of an existing fatigue fracture provides conservative estimates because the design techniques are virtually always conservative. To the engineer designing a permanent part or structure, there is no difference between crack initiation and nal fracture. The initiation of a fatigue crack most often constitutes failure of the design. Therefore, when used in analysis of an existing fatigue fracture, the values produced are either a stress magnitude that represents the minimum cyclic stress amplitude or cycle life at which fatigue fracture will initiate. The actual gures would therefore be expected to be greater than the values estimated by invoking design techniques. A limitation of classical fatigue design techniques in analysis of existing fractures is that because these techniques cannot differentiate between crack initiation and nal fracture they cannot be used to predict the growth of a fatigue crack discovered in progress. Fracture mechanics methods are required for such analyses.

Introduction Classical fatigue methods have typically been taught at the introductory level in undergraduate mechanical design classes and in metallurgical/materials classes and have also been expanded upon in graduate level design and failure analysis classes. The mathematics are relatively simple, the methodology is straightforward, and a wealth of design data exists in the published literature. However, the proof of a design or a design method is how well it models the

D. Harris T. Jur (&) Engineering Design & Testing Corp., Columbia, SC, USA e-mail:



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Classical fatigue design techniques are based on a combination of eld and laboratory observations including experimental laboratory data regarding the factors observed to affect fatigue behavior and the mathematical relationships between the affecting factors and the fracture process. These methods have been taught at the undergraduate and graduate engineering levels for decades and are presented in a number of well-recognized engineering texts, including undergraduate texts by Shigley [1] and by Juvinall and Marshek [2] and a graduate text by Juvinall [3]. The property that denes the behavior of a material in fatigue terminology is called the endurance limit, Se0 . Under classical fatigue theory, certain metals, notably steel, exhibit a magnitude of cyclic stress below which fatigue fracture will not occur at any number of stress cycles. This stress is generally taken to be at a cyclic life of 106 cycles. Other materials, for example aluminum and austenitic stainless steels, do not exhibit an endurance limit and are expected to eventually fracture at any magnitude of cyclic stress. Fatigue strength data for these materials is generally given as the cyclic stress that does not cause failure at 108 or 5 9 108 cycles. The classical design methods work well for these materials for items with design lives shorter than 108 cycles. Although fatigue strength data are published for many materials, there are many more alloys for which such data are not readily available. In such cases, the fatigue strength of a material may be estimated as a factor of the ultimate tensile strength of the material, Su. This factor is called the endurance ratio of the material. For example, the endurance limit for a steel may be estimated to be 0.5 Su, where the endurance limit ratio is 0.5. Likewise, the fatigue strength for austenitic stainless steel at 5 9 108 cycles is often estimated to be 0.4 Su. For most materials, the fatigue strength is determined by testing a highly polished, small specimen in rotating, fully reversed bending. The fully reversed bending means that the stress amplitude varies positive to negative with a mean stress value of 0, as illustrated by the graph in Fig. 1 [3]. Factors that have been observed to affect the behavior of a part in fatigue include its surface nish and size, as well as the type of loading and the presence of stress

concentrations. Stress concentration may be treated as either a multiplier of the nominal stress in the stimulus to fracture or as a property of the part that acts to reduce the resistance to fracture. Treating stress concentration as a function of the part geometry and therefore as a factor in reducing the resistance to fracture and dening Se as a specic parts endurance limit one may obtain: Se Cs C1 Cd Se 0 =Kf Eq 1

where Cs is the surface nish factor, Cl is the load factor, Cd is the size factor, and Kf is the fatigue stress concentration factor. A value for Cs is generally taken from a curve such as that in Fig. 2 [2]. Since the bulk of the data for Se0 is derived from rotating bend tests, Cl for bending loads is 1.0. Axial loads are generally assigned a factor of 0.90. One reason for this test-derived observation may be that it is nearly impossible to generate a perfectly axial load with no bending component, and some bending stresses are always present in addition to the axial stresses. Maximum distortion energy theory suggests treating torsional shear loads with a load factor of 0.577. It has been observed that part size affects fatigue strength with larger parts fracturing at lower nominal stress levels than smaller parts of the same material. It has been theorized that this may be due to the difculty in achieving true homogeneity of material properties in a large mass. The part size is not considered to be a factor in parts less than 2 in. in major dimension and such small parts are therefore assigned a load factor, Cd, of 1.0. Parts greater than 2 in. but under 12 in. may exhibit

Fig. 1 Rotating bending stress pattern

Fig. 2 Reduction in endurance limit because of surface nishsteel parts


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Fig. 4 Generalized S-N curve for wrought steel with superimposed data points

Fig. 3 Notch-sensitivity charts for steel and 2024-T wrought aluminum alloys subjected to reversed bending or reversed axial loads Table 1 Fatigue stress-concentration factors (kf) for unied and American standard threads, steel boltsbending or axial loading Steel Annealed (\HB 200) Quenched and drawn ([HB 200) Rolled Threads 2.2 3.0 Cut Threads 2.8 3.8
so (linear scale) Sn Gerber parabola Goodman line Soderberg line

Fig. 5 Illustration of alternating stress with mean stress

a Cd of between 0.90 and 0.75. Parts greater than 12 in. are assigned a Cd less than 0.75, based on experience and knowledge of the forming and mechanical behavior of the part material. Kf is generally taken as a function of the static stress concentration factor, Kt, obtained from data curves such as those produced by Peterson [4] and given the tendency of the material to crack at such stress concentrations, a property called notch sensitivity, q. Figure 3 [1] is a commonly used chart for determining notch sensitivity as a function of material strength. Various mathematical relationships have been proposed between Kf, Kt, and q. A commonly used expression developed by Peterson is: Kf qKt 1 Eq 2

Sy sm (linear scale)


Fig. 6 Proposed lines of constant fatigue life, alternating uniaxial stress with tensile mean stress, steel and aluminum. Case shown in for innite or 5 9 108 cycle life. For shorter life, point Sn is replaced by a value of S taken from the appropriate S-N curve

Values for the fatigue stress concentration factors for typical threaded bolts are given in Table 1. The root of a screw thread represents a signicant stress concentration, and the prevalence of threaded fasteners is such that fatigue fracture of bolts and screws is not uncommon. The values of Kt given in Table 1 [3] also show that the typical values of Kf for screw threads are a function of material strength (hardness) and manufacturing method. The values in Table 1 are for Kf directly, and no modication for notch sensitivity is required. Also, these gures include the effects of surface nish, and therefore, if used in a design or analysis, Cs should be set at 1.0. For an innite design life (or a design life up to 5 9 108 cycles for materials that do not exhibit an actual endurance limit) with fully reversed stresses (Fig. 1), one can design

to Se0 as a maximum allowable value of stress amplitude. For a design life less than that of the endurance limit, a logarithmic curve called an S-N diagram is set up to nd the fully reversed fracture stress (S) at lower values of cyclic life (N), based on Se0 for that part, such as the one shown in Fig. 4 [6]. Such a chart typically begins with a cyclic life of 103 cycles. The fatigue strength at 103 cycles is generally estimated to be 0.90 times the ultimate tensile strength. The aforementioned methods address fully reversed stresses in which the stress magnitudes vary about a mean of 0. However, other than overhung rotating applications, most actual situations are not that simple and involve some level of stress that is always present. In such a case the cyclic stress amplitudes vary about a positive mean stress, as illustrated in Fig. 5 [6]. A situation of positive mean stress is handled under classical fatigue methods by use of a diagram such as the one shown in Fig. 6 [3], where mean



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Fig. 7 Suction roll shell, as viewed from tending end

stress is plotted against cyclic stress amplitude and compared to a line representing failure, such as those determined by Soderberg, Goodman, and Gerber [3]. Of these lines, the Goodman line best approximates actual fracture data. These curves show that, as the mean stress increases, the fatigue life decreases and therefore the stress necessary to cause fatigue failure in a certain number of cycles decreases. The literature data available for many materials can be used to demonstrate that service conditions could, or even should, cause failure. The application of classical fatigue analyses to any service failure can be used to determine anticipated performance of actual components and provide the data necessary to determine the cause of failure (what caused the fatigue) and make recommendations for future operations.

Fig. 8 Close-up view of inside surface of shell at crack location, showing typical representation of crack path in circumferential direction from shell wall

Analysis of Cracked Condition of Paper Mill Suction Roll The roll in question was a perforated hollow roll from a papermaking machine. Figure 7 is a photograph of the roll. While in operation late one day, an alarm signal was received from a radial vibration sensor at a bearing on the tending side of a suction roll in the press section of the machine. An inspection ensued, and the suction roll was found to have a substantial circumferential crack in the roll shell. Figure 8 shows the cracking found in the perforated shell of the roll. The roll was 22 years old when the crack in the suction roll formed, and the roll had seen an estimated 11 years of cumulative service. With respect to the recent operating history of the roll, it is known that the press experienced a wreck in the press section where the suction roll located. This wreck took place 12 days before the crack was found. The roll consisted of a 30 ft (9.2 m) long thick-walled shell having an outside diameter of 54 in. (1370 mm) and a

wall thickness of 3 in. (76 mm). The shell had a 0.75 in. (19 mm) rubber covering, resulting in a total outside diameter of the shell, as covered, of 55.5 in. (1410 mm). The material of construction was a duplex stainless steel. In the analysis, the roll assembly was treated as a simply supported beam with the reaction loads placed at the bearing locations. A comparison was made between the steady-state operating conditions and the wreck conditions, using bearing radial vibration data derived from the control system archives. For this analysis, the estimated increase in stress in the roll at the time of the wreck was on the order of 400%. The bearing radial vibration data also allowed an assessment of where the location of maximum stress on the roll shell would have occurred at the time of the wreck. It so happened that the predicted location of the maximum stress was within a few inches of where the actual crack was found. This level of agreement veries the assessment of the increment in stress experienced by the roll at the time of the wreck. Using the information obtained as to the operating times and as to paper speed, the estimated cycles of operations over the 12 day period was on the order of 4 9 106 cycles. The fatigue analysis demonstrated that the 400% increase in bending stress experienced by the roll 12 days


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Piston Rod

Ram Top Die Anvil Cap Double Leg Frame Bottom Die Floor Level Anvil (Top Section)

Fig. 9 Typical double frame power drop hammer forging press

before was sufcient to initiate fatigue fracture. For example, reference to Fig. 4 demonstrates that fewer than 103 cycles are necessary to cause fatigue failure at stresses only twice the endurance limit. This analysis showed that the wreck produced the conditions necessary to cause crack initiation. The continued operation after the wreck, with consideration of stress concentration from the perforations and from the initiated crack, was sufcient to cause the crack to propagate across the face of the suction roll and cause the observed failure. This analysis showed that the design of the roll was adequate for normal operations but could allow for a fatigue failure after an unusual operating condition.

Fig. 10 Fracture surface of anvil section after separation

Fracture Analysis of a Forging Anvil [5] The anvil in question was installed as part of a steamdriven power drop hammer (also commonly known as a steam hammer) forging press. The top section of a threesection cast steel anvil system fractured approximately two weeks after completion of installation of a new, spring-based, energy absorption mounting system under the anvil. The new mounting system replaced an original system that included a large, concrete inertia block. An investigation was conducted to determine the cause of the fracture and whether the fracture was related to the new mounting system. Figure 9 is an illustration of a typical steam forging hammer. In Fig. 10, the anvil in question has been separated into its two fractured halves, revealing the fatigue fracture surface. The operating history of the forging hammer was well known. The anvil was modeled as a simply supported beam with a central impact load. Energy equations were used to determine the stress in the beam as a function of impact energy absorbed by the anvil. The steam hammer owner used 278,000 ft lbf (377,000 N m) per strike as the basis

for manufacturing calculations. This gure was veried as accurate through both analysis and review of the machine manufacturers specications. The anvil material was specied as ANSI 60A cast steel. However, hardness testing indicated a tensile strength less than the nominal 63 ksi (435 MPa) for ANSI 60A. Instead, a tensile strength value of 50 ksi (345 MPa) was used for the analysis. Research suggested a value for the endurance ratio of 0.48, close to the 0.50 commonly used for wrought carbon and low-alloy steels. The fracture was observed to have originated at the as-cast surface on the bottom of the anvil, and therefore a value of 0.50 was chosen for the surface nish factor, Cs. As the anvil was loaded in bending, the value chosen for the load factor, Cl, was 1.0. A large casting would not be expected to exhibit complete homogeneity of properties so a relatively low size factor, Cd, of 0.60 was chosen. No signicant stress concentrations, other than the rough, as-cast surface, were observed in the area of the origin. Since the as-cast nish was accounted for by the surface nish factor, no stress concentration factor, Kf, was considered. Application of Eq 1 to the above values resulted in a part-specic fatigue endurance limit, Se, of 7.0 ksi (48 MPa). The bending stresses in the anvil are not reversed, but instead range from 0 to a peak value. This results in a state of mean plus alternating stress in which the mean stress and the amplitude of the cyclic stress are



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identical and plots as a 45 line on a Sm-Sa diagram (Fig. 6). In a forging operation, it is desirable that the part being formed absorb as much of the energy of the forging hammer as possible. With a well-designed anvil and foundation, the anvil of a forging hammer will absorb 25% or less of the hammer energy, leaving more than 75% of the energy available for part forming. The fatigue analysis described previously demonstrated that even absorption of 100% of the energy of the steam hammer for the two week period following the installation of the new foundation would have been insufcient to induce fatigue fracture in the anvil. However, absorption of as little as 35% of the hammers energy over a time frame of two years would be expected to induce fatigue fracture. It was therefore concluded that the fracture of the anvil was attributable to normal operation of the hammer with a deteriorating foundation over the two years prior to the replacement of the foundation and that the new foundation did not contribute to the fracture.

Fig. 11 Sketch of agitator assembly

Failure Analysis of a Large Dryer Shaft [6] A large, horizontal ribbon blender, used as the nal product dryer for a pharmaceutical powder, failed when the agitator shaft separated after only one year of service. The agitator assembly was constructed of ANSI Type 316 stainless steel and consisted of a solid, horizontal shaft with multiple radial spokes attached to the shaft by through drilling and welding. Inspection of the shaft revealed that the fracture involved a condition of fatigue that originated at the base of one of the radial spokes attached to the horizontal shaft and propagated into the horizontal shaft. Figure 11 is an illustration of the construction of the ribbon agitator, and Fig. 12 illustrates a fatigue crack in the attachment weld of a radial spoke. Published data suggested a tensile strength of 80 ksi (550 MPa) for ANSI Type 316 stainless steel. Research materials suggested an endurance ratio for austenitic stainless steels of 0.40 at 5 9 108 cycles. The dryer parts were commercially polished, so a surface nish factor of 0.90 was chosen. Although the loading on the shaft is bending, it is not fully reversed bending and a load factor of 0.90 was used. The spokes are between 2 and 3 in. (51 and 76 mm) in diameter, and a size factor of 0.80 was chosen. The llet weld at the base of the spoke had been ground and polished, so the typically large stress concentration associated with an unnished llet weld would not be present. The llet radius at the spoke base suggested a static stress concentration factor, Kt, of 1.25 [4]. Notch sensitivity, q, was determined to be about 0.75, which resulted in a fatigue stress concentration factor, Kf, of 1.2.

Fig. 12 Propagation of crack into horizontal shaft

A bending model was developed for the spokes based on thrust of the ribbons through the granular product, treated as a liquid. A complication in this analysis was that a single dryer batch comprised 36 separate centrifuge drops. Since thrust loads on the spokes are proportional to product depth, a spoke experiences 36 separate load conditions in each single dryer cycle. This necessitated the application of Miners Rule of cumulative fatigue damage, wherein each load cycle that results in stresses above the endurance limit is treated as causing damage proportionate to their individual magnitudes divided by the endurance limit of the material/part [3]. The complication of multiple centrifuge batches resulting in potentially 36 separate equations for each load condition made manual solution impractical. A computer program was written that solved the multiple equations and allowed treatment of some of the data as variables. The model thus created predicted bending stresses at the base of a spoke in the vicinity of 40 ksi (275 MPa). This value matched closely with a static stress analysis conducted by the manufacturer of the ribbon blender. The model also predicted fatigue initiation at the spoke base.


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The dryer was temporarily repaired by removing the spokes and ribbon assembly from the central shaft. A new shaft was slid into the ribbon spoke assembly, and the spokes were attached using machined socket weld couplings. The computer model was used to analyze the cyclic bending stresses at the bases of the now shorter spokes and at the now larger diameter spoke base. The model predicted an extended but nite life of about 4 to 5 years at the then current production rates. Increasing the spoke diameter to 3 in. (76 mm) would be expected to extend the fatigue life well beyond the anticipated design life of the dryer. A new agitator shaft was ordered with 3 in. (76 mm) diameter spokes. The repaired agitator was examined annually. When cracks in the repaired agitator began to appear at the spoke bases after slightly more than 4 years of operation at steadily increasing production rates, the repaired agitator was replaced with the new one.

many years of failure analysis experience. Numerous opportunities have been presented as a means for judging the merits of classical fatigue designs in actual situations. It was, of course, analysis and interpretation of actual fatigue failures that led to classical fatigue design procedures in the rst place. Nevertheless it is appropriate and meritorious to periodically reinforce the value of classical fatigue design methodology by testing its application in real life fracture situations.

1. Shigley, J.E.: Mechanical Design Engineering, 2nd edn. McGrawHill, 1972 2. Juvinall, R.C., Marshek, K.M.: Fundamentals of Machine Component Design, 2nd edn. Wiley, 1991 3. Juvinall, R.C.: Stress, Strain, and Strength. McGraw-Hill, 1967 4. Pilkey, W.D.: Petersons Stress Concentration Factors, 2nd edn. Wiley, 1997 5. Harris, R.D.: Fracture Analysis of a Forging Anvil, ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition, 1998, 98-WA/DE-13 6. Harris, R.D, Jur, T.A.: Failure Analysis of a Large Dryer Shaft, ASME Winter Annual Meeting, 1993, 93-WA/DE-12

Conclusions The above three fatigue failure analyses are examples of numerous such analyses conducted by the authors over