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Fatigue and Durability of Structural Materials (#06987G)


The term metal fatigue has become very familiar to the lay public. Often, the media dramatize it by reference to causes involved in spectacular mechanical failures resulting in high loss of human life, large nancial losses, or severe setbacks in public goals. Indeed, publicized failures of aircraft, power turbines, bridges, or structures of high visibility have convinced the public that metal fatigue can lead to dire consequences. It is also sometimes represented as something very mysterious and not well understoodnor readily predictedby designers and engineers. Use of the word fatigue was coined by Poncelet in France before the middle of the nineteenth century (Ref 1.1) to imply that the material involved essentially got tired due to repeated loading, and eventually disintegrated. Reference has, in fact (facetiously), been made by Carden (Ref 1.2) to the rst incident of acoustic fatigue, in 1200 BC, when Joshua destroyed the walls of Jericho by setting them into vibration (not really metal fatigue, but structural fatigue nevertheless). Throughout modern history, particularly since the Industrial Revolution, when machinery became important, there has been an awareness of mechanical failures, identied as fatigue, which have been costly, inconvenient, and in some cases, fatal. Today there is a special emphasis on mechanical failures, mostly fatigue, but also due to other causes, not only because machines are designed to function to the limit of the capability of the materials of their construction, but because of the media focus on disasters that seemingly occur so frequently.

Some Statistics
The fact that most mechanical failures are linked to fatigue is illustrated in Table 1.1, which shows the results of an extensive study by the National Bureau of Standards (currently NIST, National Institute of Standards and Technology) of 230 parts for which failure reports were available (Ref 1.3). From the table, it is clear that of the 230 failures, 141 were associated with fatigue. Various aspects of the fatigue mechanism are listed: design deciencies (24), improper maintenance (52), fabrication defects (31), and so forth. It is clear that the causes of fatigue have many faces, all of which need to be addressed. How important fracture, due mainly to fatigue, is to our economy was brought out in a 1983 report by Battelle Columbus Laboratories

Table 1.1

Summary of number of types of failures of 230 failed components

Type of failure Stress corrosion or hydrogen embrittlement High-temperature oxidation Wear or excessive deformation





Stress rupture


Improper maintenance Fabrication defects Design deciencies Defective material Abnormal service Undetermined Total
Source: Ref 1.3

52 31 24 10 13 11 141

18 6 5 3 7 2 41

11 0 4 1 1 1 18

4 1 1 0 0 0 6

0 0 1 0 2 0 3

2 1 1 0 0 0 4

15 0 1 1 0 0 17

102 39 37 15 23 14 230

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in conjunction with the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST) (Ref 1.4). A summary of their results is shown in Table 1.2. Although several types of failures were considerednot only fatiguemany other failure mechanisms were involved. The total cost to the American economy in 1982 was $119 billion, representing approximately 4% of that years gross national product. While this amount seems to be large for component breakage alone, it should be noted in item (3) of the table that numerous costs are associated with any failure: personal, medical, and consequential, not to mention legal fees that arise out of accidents.

Dramatic Examples
Of special importance are the consequential costs that can dwarf the direct costs. The removal from service of a power-generating component of an aircraft, either because of a failure, or because of fear of a possible failure, can disable a whole facility, or an entire eet of aircraft. Consider, for example, the DC-10 jumbo jet aircraft failure that occurred in 1979. Figure 1.1 (Ref 1.5) is an excerpt from the Time magazine description of the accident that occurred when this jumbo jet suddenly plunged back to earth near the Chicago OHare airport, killing 275 people. Unexpected hairline cracks were detected to have preceded the nal fracture of the pylon of the ill-fated aircraft (the pylon is the outboard structure that carries the engine on the wing). Because it was feared that other DC-10 aircraft might suffer the same fate, the entire U.S. eet of 138 DC-10s and 132 planes owned by other countries were grounded. The lost use of these aircraft amounted to an estimated loss of $5 million per day. Fortunately, it was learned shortly thereafter that the fatigue cracks were initiated, in part, by improper maintenance procedures and not to inherent design faults or normal service loadings. The airplanes were returned to normal service within several days. However, this was not without consequential daily costs and not without the loss of 275 lives and costs of subsequent litigation. In any case, this disaster is an illustration of the entry in Table 1.1 wherein fatigue is caused not by design or material deciency, but by improper maintenance. The case illustrated in Fig. 1.2 was also brought about by poor maintenance practice. It represents the disregard of recognized niteness

of fatigue life in high-performance equipment. The gure includes the headline from Newsweeks account of the Aloha Airlines accident of a Boeing 737 in May 1988 (Ref 1.6). As seen in the photograph, the upper half of the fuselage ripped away completely while the plane was in ight. An Aloha ight attendant was blown away during the incident. Fortunately, the pilot was able to land the disabled plane at a nearby airport, saving the lives of the 95 people remaining aboard. The fuselage had failed in fatigue along a line of rivet holes, but only after the failure of the adhesive that also contributed to the bonding of this critical joint. Constant exposure to the salt-laden environment of island hopping had caused adhesive deterioration, and thus the rivets had to carry the entire load of ground-air-ground ight cycles. Although the plane was very near its safe retirement age, it
Table 1.2 Summary of a Battelle/National Bureau of Standards study on cost of fracture to U.S. economy expressed in 1982 dollars
Types of materials studied Metals and alloys (including steel, cast iron, and aluminum) Inorganic materials (such as polymers, concrete, ceramics, and glass) Composite materials (including laminated structures, glass bers, and reinforced concrete) Types of fracture considered in assessing costs Overload Brittle fracture Ductile rupture Fatigue Creep Creep rupture Stress corrosion Fretting fatigue Thermal shock Buckling Costs taken into account Costs incurred because of actual failures Cost of pain, injury, death, and medical treatment to victims Business delays or property damage Insurance administration Cargo losses Environmental cleanups Prevention through design and inspection Sectors of the economy that pay for fracture and prevention Motor vehicles and parts 12.5 billion Residential and nonresidential construction 10.0 billion Aircraft and parts 6.7 billion Structural metal and other fabricated metal products 5.5 billion Petroleum rening and industrial chemicals 4.2 billion Primary metals (iron, steel, aluminum, etc.) 3.5 billion Food and kindred products 2.4 billion Tires and inner tubes 2.4 billion Others 70.1 billion Total cost to U.S. economy $119 billion/year in 1982 dollars (approximately $232 billion/year in 2004 dollars)
Source: Ref 1.4

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Chapter 1: Introduction / 3

should have remained ightworthy. Better inspection of the known critical areas might have prevented the failure. In addition to the extensive studies by Battelle and the National Bureau of Standards, more limited studies have demonstrated that the problem is indeed pervasive. Campbell and Lahey (Ref 1.7) summarized numerous serious aircraft accidents involving fatigue fracture, as shown in Table 1.3. The U.S. space shuttle is another example of a structure that has encountered numerous fa-

tigue problems over its years of development. The following excerpt from Aviation Week and Space Technology (Ref 1.8) describes a problem that occurred in 2003: The hydrogen propulsion system cracks that have grounded the space shuttle eet have been traced to high-cycle metal fatigue. The cracks can be safely repaired for the near term, but raise questions about whether key orbiter hydrogen lines can sus-

Fig. 1.1

Time magazine excerpt of DC-10 jumbo jet aircraft failure in 1979

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tain 20 more years of shuttle ight operations without a costly retrot.* Ground equipment also provides many examples of use limitation by fatigue. One of these examples is mentioned in the following news item from August 2002 (Ref 1.9): Amtrak says it hopes its premier Acela Express service will gradually resume operations this week. All 18 of the high-speed

*As of 2005, NASA plans a maximum of 10 more ights for each of the three remaining space shuttles prior to their retirement in 2010.

trains remained out of service Friday as Amtrak, federal railroad ofcials and representatives of the manufacturer worked out a temporary repair plan to cracks underneath many of the locomotives. Amtrak President David Gunn said that if the repair plan works, its a matter of days before at least some of the trains return to duty in the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, Amtraks busiest. The experience shows why Amtrak should go with established technology rather than with new designs, such as Acela Express, when it seeks to buy additional high-speed trains, Gunn said. The U.S. government should make it easier for Amtrak to buy trains designed in Europe and already in use there, he said.

Fig. 1.2

Aloha Airlines Boeing 737 accident in Hawaii. The headline is a recreation of one that appeared in a Newsweek article about the accident (Ref 1.6). Photo source: Associated Press Wide World Photos. Reproduced with permission

2006 ASM International. All Rights Reserved. Fatigue and Durability of Structural Materials (#06987G)

Chapter 1: Introduction / 5

Early Recognition of Metal Fatigue as a Problem

It was, in fact, the Industrial Revolution, and specically, the carriage and railroad industry, that rst focused serious attention on the gravity of the fatigue problem with frequent failures of axles and wheels, as well as tracks and bridges. It became obvious that the entire enterprise was at risk if the lifetime and reliability of these components were not substantially increased. First, if the problem were to be solved, it had to be better understood. In the early 1850s, August Wohler undertook the rst systematic study of fatigue (Ref 1.1). What he learned served as a starting point for a technology, and even some science, that would be developed by many investigators in the ensuing century and a half. The authors of this book have devoted a large fraction of their lives to participating in this quest.

An Overview of this Book

Our work with NASA, the aerospace industry, and nonaerospace industries has involved us with various materials and structural durability problems. Many have involved high temperature; others have involved cryogenics, while some have dealt with both temperature extremes within a given application. Most of the durability areas have been associated with aspects of fatigue, but not entirely. Initially, our intent was to publish a single book to address all of these topics. Its length, however, as well as consideration of diversity of readership, eventually led to the choice of two separate books. The present book is concerned primarily with temperatures below the creep range. A planned future book will address temperatures wherein creep, and other thermally activated processes, are important considerations. This book is devoted almost entirely to fatigue or to peripheral aspects involved in the study of this subject. It starts with material under strain cycling because it is strain cycling that leads to fatigue. Specically, plastic strain is emphasized because it is reversible plastic straining that moves imperfections around and causes them to coalesce into larger and larger internal and surface aws that lead to failure. Treatment of uniaxial strain reversal of constant amplitude is discussed rst, describing how some materials can actually become harder or softer due to cyclic straining. A criterion is developed for pre-

dicting, in advance, which materials will harden and which will soften. Complex loading, involving successive cycling of varying amplitude is treated next. Specic rules for material behavior are rst provided without detailed proof, so an analyst can proceed expeditiously without being burdened by too many theoretical considerations. However, more detailed analysis is provided later in the chapter of the underlying reasons for the procedure, introducing several models that lead to the rules. Most materials fall within the scope of the standard model, but some materials, such as gray cast iron, require the addition of special modules, which are discussed. A technique developed in Japan in the 1960s by Professor T. Endo (Ref 1.10), known as the rainow cyclecounting procedure, which simplies the treatment of highly complex loading, is described and illustrated. The fatigue life equations are discussed in Chapter 3. Fundamentally, life is dependent on the plastic strain, as developed by the senior author (Ref 1.11), and independently by L.F. Cofn, Jr. (Ref 1.12). This development is generally known either as the Manson-Cofn equation or the Cofn-Manson equation. The chapter describes the background and reasoning used by the author in the development of the equation. Also discussed are a number of approximate equations that are useful for estimating fatigue life when the plastic strain or other characterizTable 1.3 A survey of serious aircraft accidents involving fatigue fracture
Aircraft category Number of accidents Number of aircraft destroyed Number of fatalities

Fixed wing Landing gear Engine or transmission Propeller Wing Flight controls Tail Miscellaneous Fuselage Fixed wing totals Rotary wing Engine or transmission Tail rotor Main-rotor system Miscellaneous Flight controls Airframe Landing gear Rotor-wing totals Overall totals
Source: Ref 1.7

542 408 232 137 48 37 37 25 1466

9 144 52 119 28 21 11 9 165

21 536 162 400 68 244 285 145 1861

136 100 55 45 37 35 11 419 1885

40 43 31 18 18 13 3 165 558

44 81 167 22 34 25 6 379 2240

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ing parameters for the material are not available to apply the Manson-Cofn equation. One of these, the method of universal slopes, proposed by the senior author together with M.H. Hirschberg (Ref 1.13), has been used widely in many applications. This method is described together with other approximate equations that have found extensive use with good results in many scientic and industrial applications. This chapter also discusses high-cycle fatigue, which can occur when loading is applied at moderate frequency over a long lifetime of the structure, or at extremely high frequency for shorter-lifetime structures, even if the applied strain is in the nominally elastic range. Mean stress is discussed in Chapter 4. Numerous formulations for calculation or prediction are described, but the most interesting feature is a discussion of the reason why tensile mean stress reduces fatigue life more than would be expected on the basis of higher maximum stress involved. It turns out that, somehow, the presence of mean stress causes the material to behave as if its stress-strain curve were truncatedthat is, cut off at a lower point than it is able to achieve in monotonic loading. The introduction of mean compressive stress is also a highly effective way to improve the fatigue behavior of a specimen or machine component. This chapter also discusses the basis of fatigue life improvement by compressive mean stress. Chapter 5 treats multiaxial fatigue. The presence of biaxial or triaxial stresses can inuence fatigue life substantially, and this subject has been studied by many investigators. Several existing theories are discussed, including a new one introduced by the authors of this book. An interesting nding by the senior author and a graduate student is that atomic structure can be an important factor in governing which theory is best applicable to a given material. Face-centered cubic metals are better served by a different formulation from that used for body-centered cubic metals. Cumulative fatigue damagethat is, when a specimen or part is subjected to several loading levels throughout its lifeis the subject of Chapter 6. There had long been an objective in research circles to be able to treat this problem by what was conceived as a double linear damage rule, one applicable before the initiation of a crack, another after a crack has started. For many years the senior author pursued this line of analysis according to a particular formulation he posited. In later years, however, it became clear that this formulation was incorrect. The

transition from one behavior to another occurred well before the crack was initiated at a readily observable level. In the 1980s, the authors, working jointly, developed a double linear damage rule that is not related to a physical crack initiation event. In fact, two valuable procedures were derived: one labeled the double linear damage rule (DLDR), the other, the double linear damage curve (DLDC). Either rule is nearly as easy to apply as the commonly used Miners linear damage rule (LDR). In this chapter, we apply these new developments successfully to results of two-level loading tests and to multiplelevel tests in the published literature. Also presented in this chapter are the necessary procedures to deal with cumulative damage in the case of irreversible hardening. Here, the high-strain loading in one part of the history hardens the material so that the low-strain loading is applied to a material that is harder than originally assumed. This harder material is expected to have different fatigue characteristics from those of the virgin material, thus complicating cumulative damage analyses based solely on virgin material fatigue properties. This chapter describes the treatment of tests on type 304 stainless steel that undergoes irreversible hardening. In Chapter 7 we treat the bending of circular shafts because they are so common in rotating machinery. Our experience has led us to develop a useful closed-form solution for cases that normally require trial-and-error integration. The chapter also discusses the difference in the treatment of a rotating shaft, wherein all surface elements undergo the same stress and strain history, and a nonrotating circular shaft, wherein only some surface elements are subjected to the highest stress and strain while most of the surface elements are subjected to low loading. The discussion centers about the volumetric effect of stress in fatigue because, for the same maximum surface stress, the rotating shaft subjects a larger volume of material to the maximum stress while the stationary shaft subjects only a small volume. Weibulls statistical theory is discussed briey in this connection. Stress concentration effects are treated in Chapters 8 and 9. Chapter 8 is restricted to welldened notches, where the stresses can be analytically determined. Of special interest is a study to determine the development of stresses and strains at various stages of the loading cycle. Benecial and detrimental effects of residual stress are dominant features of this discussion because residual stress is of such great importance in fatigue life. The crack effects, as dis-

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Chapter 1: Introduction / 7

cussed in Chapter 9, lead us to consideration of fracture mechanics. The eld has been particularly useful in explaining brittle fractures in large structures such as naval ships, nuclear reactors, and aerospace vehicles. In these cases, the construction may be of ductile materials, but the failures are in a brittle manner. Taking the mystery out of fatigue is treated in Chapter 10. The role of plasticity in agglomerating microscopic imperfections into larger aws, with associated stress concentrations, is discussed using dislocation theory. Most engineers are familiar with dislocations, but for those who need the basics, or who prefer to refresh their background, a fundamental primer is provided in the Appendix. Surface deterioration, volumetric effects, environmental effects, and the role of foreign particles are discussed in their roles in the development and propagation of cracks. All of the fundamentals developed in the earlier chapters are brought to bear in Chapter 11 to discuss how to avoid, control, or repair fatigue damage. This chapter is largely a compendium of engineering processes that have been successful in treating the fatigue problem. Decisions made at every stage, from the sizing of parts, choice of materials, mechanical and thermomechanical processing, fabrication, surface preparation, and introduction of favorable residual stresses, provide the designer, assembler, and user an opportunity to strengthen the structure and protect it against the hazards of fatigue failure. Specic examples are provided to illustrate good versus faulty practice. While most of the content of the book is directed to the application of metals in engineering structures, modern technology has created new materials and used them in special applications. Polymers, ceramics, and composites combining metals with nonmetals have come into common use for applications wherein they are superior in service function, or are less expensive than the metals they can replace. Bone is another special material, evolved by nature for animal or human functioning. Can we carry over the technology developed largely for metals to applications involving these special materials? Chapter 12 describes some experiences of the authors to answer this question. Some tests were conducted in the laboratory by the authors and students, and in some cases the results are drawn from the work of colleagues (e.g., bone studies). The results are very encouraging for polymers. In many respects, the technology developed for

metals can be carried over to polymers. Bone, too, is analogous in cycling characteristics to metals that soften with cycling. It lends itself better to analysis by hysteresis energy. Bone can be self-healing to a much greater extent than metals, however. Much more work is needed in the study of bone to bring it to the level of predictability in fatigue that has been achieved for metals. Engineered ceramics, composited ceramics, and ceramic ber-reinforced metal-matrix composites have been studied intensively, and recent ndings are discussed in this chapter. The last chapter is an Appendix. The information contained within it is equally applicable to the planned second volume; it is, in fact, intended to be repeated in that volume for the convenience of readers who may not have immediate access to the present volume. The Appendix is used for many purposes. First, it provides an opportunity to dene many terms and concepts that might otherwise require repetition in multiple locations. Second, it permits brief reviews of subject matter with which many readers are already familiar, but which a limited readership might need in order to follow the text, for example, the theory of dislocations. Similarly the theory of heat treatment and its terminology may be well known to some but not to others. Thus, both of these specialties are given in the Appendix rather than being discussed in multiple places as they occur in the text. Metallurgical aspects and terms of atomic structure are also covered. The types of tests (hardness, tensile, fatigue, etc.) used to characterize materials, or to evaluate them, are discussed, as is the equipment for obtaining the various properties used in analysis. These topics can be given adequate coverage in the Appendix without devoting unnecessary interruptions to clarify discussion each time they are used. One analytical subject is included in the Appendixthat is, a special technique for inverting an equation in the general form:
y Ax Bx b

where and b are nonintegers. When x is the known quantity, y can be easily calculated. However, there is no closed-form solution for calculating x if y is the known variable. This type of equation is encountered in many applications discussed in the book, for example, in the Manson-Cofn-Basquin equation, in the expression for the cyclic stress-strain curve, and in analysis of notches. The Appendix describes how the so-

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lution was generated and how it can be applied to other problems discussed in the book.


1.5 1.6 1.7


S.P. Timoshenko, History of Strength of Materials, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1953. See also R.C. Juvinall, Stress, Strain, and Strength, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1967, p 194195. 1.2 E.A. Carden, Low Cycle Fatigue under Multiaxial Stress Cycling, paper 108, Proceedings of the Second International Symposium, Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers, Tokyo, Sept 1967 1.3 R.P. Reed, J.H. Smith, and B.W. Christ, The Economic Effects of Fracture in the United States, Special Publication 647-1, National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, Gaithersburg, MD, 1983 1.4 Anon., Battelle Columbus Laboratories, Metals and Ceramics Information Center, Issue 120/121, Feb/March 1983. See also J.J. Duga, W.H. Fisher, R.W. Buxbaum, A.R. Roseneld, A.R. Buhr, E.J. Honton, and S.C. McMillan, Fracture Costs US $119 Billion a Year, Says Study by Battelle/NBS, Int. J. Fract., Vol 23, 1983, p R81R83. These references are brief synopses of an extensive report by the same

1.8 1.9 1.10



seven Battelle Columbus Laboratories authors titled The Economic Effects of Fracture in the United States, National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce, Gaithersburg, MD, Special Publication 647-2, 1983. Anon., Debacle of the DC-10, Time Magazine, June 18, 1979, p 14 Anon., Whoosh! She was Gone, Newsweek Magazine, May 9, 1988, p 18 G.S. Campbell and R. Lahey, A Survey of Serious Aircraft Accidents Involving Fatigue Fracture, Int. J. Fatigue, Vol 6 (No. 1), Jan 1984 C. Covault, Shuttle Cleared to Fly Again, Aviat. Week Space Technol., Aug 12, 2002, p 2728 Anon, Amtrak Repairing High-Speed Trains, The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH, Aug 19, 2002 The Rainow Method: The Tatsuo Endo Memorial Volume, Y. Murakami, Ed., Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd., Oxford, UK, 1992 S.S. Manson, Behavior of Materials under Conditions of Thermal Stress, Heat Transfer Symposium, University of Michigan, 1952 L.F. Cofn, Jr., A Study of the Effects of Cyclic Thermal Stresses on a Ductile Metal, Trans. ASME, Vol 76, American Society of Mechanical Engineering, New York, 1954, p 931950

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