Fretting fatigue experiments and finite element analysis were carried out to investigate the influence of cylindrical-on-flat contact on crack nucleation, crack path and fatigue life of medium-carbon steel. The location of crack nucleation was predicted using the maximum shear stress range criterion and the maximum relative slip amplitude criterion. The prediction using the maximum relative slip amplitude criterion gave the better agreement with the experimental result, and should be used for the prediction of the location of crack nucleation. Crack openings under compressive bulk stresses were found in the fretting fatigues with flat-on-flat contact and cylindrical-on-flat contacts, i.e., fretting-contact-induced crack openings. The crack opening stress of specimen with flat-on-flat contact was lower than those of specimens with cylindrical-on-flat contacts, while that of specimen with 60-mm radius contact pad was lower than that of specimen with 15-mm radius contact pad. The fretting fatigue lives were estimated by integrating the fatigue crack growth curve from an initial propagating crack length to a critical crack length. The predictions of fretting fatigue life with consideration of crack opening were in good agreement with the experimental results.
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