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Technical Paper

Bending Fatigue Crack Characterization and Fracture Toughness of Gas Carburized SAE 4320 Steel

Crack initiation and propagation in an SAE 4320 steel gas carburized to a 1.0 mm case depth was examined in specimens subjected to bending fatigue. Cellulose acetate replicas of incrementally loaded specimens showed that small, intergranular cracks were initiated during static loading to stress levels just above the endurance limit. The intergranular cracks arrest and serve as initiation sites for semi-elliptical, transgranular fatigue crack propagation. The maximum depth of stable crack propagation was between 0.17 and 0.23 mm, a depth which corresponds to the maximum hardness of the carburized case. Three equations which provide approximations to the stress distribution in the fatigue specimens were used to calculate KIC for the carburized case with values of maximum applied stress and measured stable crack geometry.
Technical Paper

Bending Fatigue Life Analysis of Carburized Components Using Strain Life and Fracture Mechanics Approaches

Axle primary gearing is normally carburized for high and balanced resistance to contact fatigue, wear, bending fatigue, and impact loading. The focus of this work is on bending fatigue which is a key design consideration of automotive and commercial vehicle axle gearing. Since a carburized component is basically a composite material with steep gradients in carbon content, hardness, tensile strength and microstructure from surface to the middle of the cross section combined with non-linear residual stress, its bending fatigue life prediction is a complex and challenging task. Many factors affect the bending fatigue performance of axle gearing, such as gear design, gear manufacturing, loading history during service, residual stress distribution, steel grade, and heat treatment. In this paper, the general methodology for bending fatigue life prediction of a carburized component is investigated. Carburized steel composites are treated as two homogeneous materials: case and core.
Technical Paper

Bending Fatigue Performance of Carburized 4320 Steel

The bending fatigue performance of four heats of carburized, commercially-produced SAE 4320 steel was evaluated. Simulated gear tooth in bending (SGTB) cantilever beam specimens from each heat were identically carburized and fatigue tested in the direct quenched condition after carburizing. The microstructure and fracture surfaces of all specimens were characterized with light and electron microscopy. The four direct quenched sets of specimens performed similarly in low cycle fatigue. Endurance limits among the direct quenched specimens ranged between 1100 and 1170 MPa (160 and 170 ksi) and intergranular cracking dominated fatigue crack initiation. An additional set of specimens from one of the heats was reheated after carburizing. The fatigue performance of the reheated specimens was superior to that of the direct quenched specimens in both the low and high cycle regions. The effects of inclusion content, microstructure, and residual stresses on fatigue performance are discussed.
Technical Paper

Bending Fatigue Performance of Gas- and Plasma-Carburized Steels

This study evaluated the bending fatigue performance of a modified SAE 4320 steel as a function of carburizing technique. S-N curves and endurance limits were established by fatigue testing modified Brugger-type specimens that are designed to simulate a single gear tooth. Fractured specimens were examined by light and electron microscopy to determine crack initiation sites, establish the extent of stable crack propagation, and analyze surface oxide types and distributions. Test results show that plasma-carburizing boosted the endurance limit of an oxidation-susceptible gear steel from 1100 MPa to 1375 MPa. Fatigue endurance limits in excess of 1400 MPa had previously been achieved in gas-carburized SAE 4320 steels by reheat treatments and reductions in high-oxidation potential elements. The level of improvement observed in this study suggests that any of these advanced processing techniques can allow significant size reductions and weight savings in automotive transmission gears.
Technical Paper

Causes of Variability in Gear Fatigue Testing

Fatigue testing of actual components can produce considerable variation in the data. This seems to be especially true for higher strength case hardened components such as gears. Long term fatigue data on gears has shown there may be up to a 9:1 difference between the high and low cycle samples tested under the same conditions. This paper presents a systematic approach to determining some of the causes of this variation. Hypoid gear sets were dynamometer tested at 6 month intervals to determine the contribution of each cause. This study shows that the dynamometer test set up, the heat treatment of the gears, the cutting of the gear teeth, and the heat of steel used all contribute to the variability. Several metallurgical factors were also examined for a correlation to fatigue life.
Technical Paper

Contact Fatigue Tests and Contact Fatigue Life Analysis

The main objective of this paper is to investigate contact fatigue life models and to evaluate the effect of surface finish on contact fatigue life. The effect of surface finish on contact fatigue life was investigated experimentally using two roller contact fatigue tests. The test samples, i.e. rollers, were carburized, quenched and then tempered. Two different roller surface finishes were evaluated: machined and as heat-treated surface (baseline rough surface) vs. super finished surface (smooth). Because many factors are involved in sliding/rolling contact fatigue, contact fatigue modeling is still in the early development stage. In this work, we will analyze our contact fatigue test results and correlate contact fatigue life with several empirical contact fatigue models, such as the lambda ratio, a new surface texture parameter, and a normalized pitting model which includes Hertzian Stress, sliding, surface roughness and oil film thickness.
Technical Paper

Contact Fatigue Tests and Life Simulations Using Computational Fracture Mechanics

Computational fracture mechanics based FATIG3D program was used to simulate contact fatigue life of rough surface contacts in boundary to mixed lubrication regimes. Two-rollers contact fatigue tests were conducted and test results were compared with calculated contact fatigue lives. Calculated contact fatigue life agreed with test results well with the selected set of input data. The effect of several important parameters in the input data on contact fatigue life was evaluated computationally using FATIG3D. These parameters include: oil pressure distribution, crack face friction, direction of friction, friction coefficient, initial crack length, Hertzian stress, and residual stress distributions. The results obtained in this work improved basic understanding and the application of FATIG3D in simulating contact fatigue behavior.
Technical Paper

Effects of Silicon and Boron Additions on the Susceptibility to Quench Embrittlement and the Bending Fatigue Performance of Vacuum Carburized Modified 4320 Steel

The effect of B and Si additions on fracture and fatigue performance of vacuum carburized 4320 steel and modifications of 4320 steel containing additions of Si (1.0 and 2.0 wt pct) and B (0 and 17 ppm) was evaluated by bending fatigue testing. Three rates of gas quenching, in 10 bar nitrogen and 15 and 20 bar helium, were used to cool specimens after carburizing. The B, protected by Ti additions, together with the Si additions, increased core hardenability. The B/Si modified steels showed no improvement in fatigue resistance, as measured by endurance limits established by 10 million cycle runouts without fracture. However, scanning electron microscopy showed that Si reduced sensitivity to intergranular fracture or quench embrittlement, a major cause of bending fatigue crack initiation, and contributed to variable fatigue performance, with both low-cycle failures and runout performance at applied stresses significantly above measured endurance limits.
Technical Paper

Effects of Testing Temperature on the Fatigue Behavior of Carburized Steel

The effects of elevated testing temperature on the fatigue behavior of carburized steel were evaluated by testing modified Brügger bending fatigue specimens at room temperature, 90 °C and 150 °C. SAE 4023, SAE 4320, and SAE 9310 steel were studied to assess the influence of alloy content and stability of retained austenite. Fatigue samples were gas-carburized and tested in air at 30 Hz with a stress ratio of 0.1. An infrared spot lamp was used to heat samples to 90 °C (150 °F) or 150 °C (302 °F) during testing. S-N curves were developed for the room temperature baseline tests as well as elevated temperature tests. The endurance limits determined are as follows: SAE 4023-RT (1170 MPa), SAE 4023-90°C (1140 MPa), SAE 4320-RT (1210 MPa), SAE 4320-90°C (1280 MPa), SAE 9310-RT (1380 MPa), SAE 9310-90°C (1240 MPa).
Technical Paper

Fatigue of Microalloyed Bar Steels

The fatigue behavior of five microalloyed steels, processed with hardnesses between 25-28 HRC containing microstructures ranging from precipitation-hardened ferrite-pearlite to bainite, were evaluated in both low cycle (strain controlled) and high cycle (stress controlled fatigue. The vanadium-bearing steels included, 15R30V, 1522 MoVTi, 1522 MoVTiS, 1534 MoVTi, and 1534 MoVTiSi. Conventional quench and tempered 4140 steel was used as a reference. Low cycle fatigue (LCF) data for all steels were similar. Subtle microstructural-dependent differences in the high-strain amplitude region of the LCF curves were attributed to the effects of retained austenite, present in some of the non-traditional bainitic steels. In high cycle fatigue, all steels exhibited similar properties, except for the ferrite-pearlite steel (15R30V) which exhibited the lowest endurance limit, an observation which was attributed to crack nucleation in coarse-grained ferrite.
Technical Paper

Investigation of S-N Test Data Scatter of Carburized 4320 Steel

A series of bending fatigue tests were conducted and S-N data were obtained for two groups of 4320 steel samples: (1) carburized, quenched and tempered, (2) carburized, quenched, tempered and shot peened. Shot peening improved the fatigue life and endurance limit. The S-N data exhibited large scatter, especially for carburized samples and at the high cycle life regime. Sample characterization work was performed and scatter bands were established for residual stress distributions, in addition to fracture and fatigue properties for 4320 steel. Moreover, a fatigue life analysis was performed using fracture mechanics and strain life fatigue theories. Scatter in S-N curves was established computationally by using the lower bound and upper bound in materials properties, residual stress and IGO depth in the input data. The results for fatigue life analysis, using either computational fracture mechanics or strain life theory, agreed reasonably well with the test data.
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

Mechanical Properties of Gear Steels and Other Perspective Light Weight Materials for Gear Applications

To improve fuel economy and possibly reduce product cost, light weight and high power density has been a development goal for commercial vehicle axle components. Light weight materials, such as aluminum alloys and polymer materials, as well as polymer matrix composite materials have been applied in various automotive components. However it is still a huge challenge to apply light weight materials in components which are subject to heavy load and thus have high stresses, such as gears for commercial vehicle axles or transmissions. To understand and illustrate this challenge, in this paper we will report and review the current state of art of carburized gear steels properties and performance.

Steels: Processing, Structure, and Performance

This book is a comprehensive guide to the broad, dynamic physical metallurgy of steels. Contents include the: interrelationships between chemistry, processing, structure, and performance--the elements of physical metallurgy--are integrated for all the types of steel; evolution, characterization, and performance of steel microstructures are described, with increased emphasis on deformation and fracture; thermal processing and its effect on steels; low carbon sheet steels, together with strengthening mechanisms, developments in microalloyed forging steels, steels with bainitic and a variety of ferritic microstructures, quench and tempered steel performance, high-carbon steels for rail and ultra-high strength wire, and the causes of low toughness and embrittlement Principles, concepts, and understanding of microstructural evolution and performance, within the framework of processing and properties, are illustrated, by plots of data, micrographs and schematic diagrams.
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

The Limitations of Fatigue Testing

Fatigue testing of components is used to validate new product designs as well as changes made to existing designs. On new designs it is common to initially test parts at the design stage (design verification or DV) and then again at the production stage (production verification or PV) to make sure the performance has not changed. On changes to existing designs typically the life of the new part (B) is compared to that of the old part (A). When comparing the fatigue life Weibull analysis is normally used to evaluate the data. The expectation is that the B10 or B50 life of the new part or PV parts should be equal to or better than that of the old parts or the DV parts. However, fatigue testing has a great deal of inherent variability in the resulting life. In this paper the variability of numerous carburized and induction hardened components is examined.
Technical Paper

Virtual Testing: Fatigue Life (S-N Curves) Simulations for Commercial Vehicle Axle Components

Current trends in vehicle development, including both automotive and commercial vehicles, are characterized by short model life cycles, reduced development time, concurrent design and manufacturing development, reduced design changes, and reduced total cost. All of these are driven by customer demand of higher load capacity, reduced weight, extended durability and warranty requirement, better NVH performance and reduced cost. These trends have resulted in increased usage of computational simulation tools in design, manufacturing, and testing, i.e. virtual testing or virtual prototyping. This paper summarizes our work in virtual testing, i.e. fatigue life simulations using computational fracture mechanics for commercial vehicle axle gearing development. First, fatigue life simulation results by using computational fracture mechanics CRACKS software were verified by comparing with gear teeth bending fatigue test data and three point bending fatigue test data.