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Technical Paper

The Effect of Reheat Treatments on Fatigue and Fracture of Carburized Steels

The effects of austenite grain size on the bending fatigue crack initiation and fatigue performance of gas carburized, modified 4320 steels were studied. The steels were identical in composition except for phosphorus concentration which ranged between 0.005 and 0.031 wt%. Following the carburizing cycle, specimens were subjected to single and triple reheat treatments of 820°C for 30 minutes to refine the austenite grain structure, and oil quenched and tempered at 150°C. Specimens subjected to bending fatigue were characterized by light metallography to determine microstructure and grain size, X-ray analysis for retained austenite and residual stress measurements, and scanning electron microscopy for examination of fatigue crack initiation and propagation. The surface austenite grain size ranged from 15 μm in the as-carburized condition to 6 and 4 μm diameter grain size for the single and triple reheat conditions, respectively.
Technical Paper

Bending Fatigue of Carburized Steels: A Statistical Analysis of Process and Microstructural Parameters

A large set of bending fatigue data on carburized steels has been statistically analyzed to quantitatively describe the effects of process and microstructural variables. Increasing demands on gear steels require a broad examination of past bending fatigue research to reveal the primary factors that determine fatigue performance and guide future gear steel design. Fatigue performance was correlated to specimen characteristics such as retained austenite content, case and core grain size, extent of intergranular oxidation, surface roughness, and the case profiles of residual stress, hardness, and carbon content. Prior austenite grain size in the case and surface residual stress were found to most strongly influence bending fatigue endurance limit. A multiple regression model to predict endurance limit achieved an R-squared value of 0.56.
Technical Paper

Examination of Pitting Fatigue in Carburized Steels with Controlled Retained Austenite Fractions

The effects of several variables on pitting fatigue life of carburized steels were analyzed using a geared roller test machine (GRTM). The material variables that were primarily used to influence retained austenite include aim surface carbon concentration (0.8 % and 0.95 %), alloy (SAE 4320 and a modified SAE 4122), and cold treatment (performed on one material condition per alloy). Testing variables included contact stress in addition to a variation in lambda ratio (oil film thickness/surface roughness), arising from variation in roughness among the machined surfaces. Test results are presented, and differences in performance are considered in terms of material and testing variables. A primary observation from these results is an improvement in contact fatigue resistance apparently arising from cold-treatment and the associated reduction of retained austenite at the surface.
Technical Paper

Investigation of the Effect of Sample Size on Fatigue Endurance Limit of a Carburized Steel

Prediction of fatigue performance of large structures and components is generally done through the use of a fatigue analysis software, FEA stress/strain analysis, load spectra, and materials properties generated from laboratory tests with small specimens. Prior experience and test data has shown that a specimen size effect exists, i.e. the fatigue strength or endurance limit of large members is lower than that of small specimens made of same material. Obviously, the size effect is an important issue in fatigue design of large components. However a precise experimental study of the size effect is very difficult for several reasons. It is difficult to prepare geometrically similar specimens with increased volume which have the same microstructures and residual stress distributions throughout the entire material volume to be tested. Fatigue testing of large samples can also be a problem due to the limitation of load capacity of the test systems available.
Technical Paper

Optimized Carburized Steel Fatigue Performance as Assessed with Gear and Modified Brugger Fatigue Tests

The effectiveness of three different techniques, designed to improve the bending fatigue life in comparison to conventionally processed gas-carburized 8620 steel, were evaluated with modified Brugger bending fatigue specimens and actual ring and pinion gears. The bending fatigue samples were machined from forged gear blanks from the same lot of material used for the pinion gear tests, and all processing of laboratory samples and gears was done together. Fatigue data were obtained on standard as-carburized parts and after three special processing histories: shot-peening to increase surface residual stresses; double heat treating to refined austenite grain size; and vacuum carburizing to minimize intergranular oxidation. Standard room-temperature S-N curves and endurance limits were obtained with the laboratory samples. The pinions were run as part of a complete gear set on a laboratory dynamometer and data were obtained at two imposed torque levels.