The interior defect-induced fracture of surface-hardened metallic materials in the long life region has become a key issue on engineering design. In the present study, the axial loading test with fully reversed condition was performed to examine the fatigue property of a surface-carburized low alloy gear steel in the long life region. Results show that this steel represents the duplex S-N
(stress-number of cycles) characteristics without conventional fatigue limit related to 107
cycles. Fatigue cracks are all originated from the interior inclusions in the matrix region due to the inhabitation effect of carburized layer. The inclusion induced fracture with fisheye occurs in the short life region below 5 × 105
cycles, whereas the inclusion induced fracture with fine granular area (FGA) and fisheye occurs in the long life region beyond 106
cycles. The stress intensity factor range at the front of FGA can be regarded as the threshold value controlling stable growth of interior long crack. The evaluated maximum inclusion size in the effective damage volume of specimen is about 27.29 μm. Considering the size relationships between fisheye and FGA, and inclusion, the developed life prediction method involving crack growth can be acceptable on the basis of the good agreement between the predicted and experimental results.
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