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Modes of Fatigue Failure

Engineering Analysis

Modes of Fatigue Failure

Several modes of fatigue failure are:

Low/High-Cycle Fatigue: This fatigue process covers cyclic loading in two significantly different domains, with different physical mechanisms of failure. One domain is characterized by relatively low cyclic loads, strain cycles confined largely to the elastic range, and long lives, that is, a high number of cycles to failure; traditionally, this has been called “high-cycle fatigue.” The other domain has cyclic loads that are relatively high, significant amounts of plastic strain induced during each cycle, and short lives, that is, a low number of cycles to failure. This domain has commonly been called “low-cycle fatigue” or cyclic strain-controlled fatigue.

The transition from low- to high-cycle fatigue behavior occurs in the range from approximately 10,000 to 100,000 cycles. Many define low-cycle fatigue as failure that occurs in 50,000 cycles or less.

Thermal Fatigue: Cyclic temperature changes in a machine part will produce cyclic stresses and strains if natural thermal expansions and contractions are either wholly or partially constrained. These cyclic strains produce fatigue failure just as if they were produced by external mechanical loading. When strain cycling is produced by a fluctuating temperature field, the failure process is termed “thermal fatigue.”

While thermal fatigue and mechanical fatigue phenomena are very similar, and can be mathematically expressed by the same types of equations, the use of mechanical fatigue results to predict thermal fatigue performance must be done with care. For equal values of plastic strain range, the number of cycles to failure is usually up to 2.5 times lower for thermally cycled than for mechanically cycled samples.

Corrosion Fatigue: Corrosion fatigue is a failure mode where cyclic stresses and a corrosion- producing environment combine to initiate and propagate cracks in fewer stress cycles and at lower stress amplitudes than would be required in a more inert environment. The corrosion process forms pits and surface discontinuities that act as stress raisers to accelerate fatigue cracking. Cyclic loads may also cause cracking and flaking of the corrosion layer, baring fresh metal to the corrosive environment. Each process accelerates the other, making the cumulative result more serious.

Surface or Contact Fatigue: Surface fatigue failure is usually associated with rolling surfaces in contact, and results in pitting, cracking, and spalling of the contacting surfaces from cyclic Hertz contact stresses that cause the maximum values of cyclic shear stresses to be slightly below the surface. The cyclic subsurface shear stresses generate cracks that propagate to the contacting surface, dislodging particles in the process.

Combined Creep and Fatigue: In this failure mode, all of the conditions for both creep failure and fatigue failure exist simultaneously. Each process influences the other in producing failure, but this interaction is not well understood.


Reference: Machinerys Handbook 30th Edition