Basic issues in the mechanics of high cycle metal fatigue

  • David L. McDowell


Mechanics issues related to the formation and growth of cracks ranging from subgrain dimension to up to the order of one mm are considered under high cycle fatigue (HCF) conditions for metallic materials. Further efforts to improve the accuracy of life estimation in the HCF regime must consider various factors that are not presently addressed by traditional linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) approaches, nor by conventional HCF design tools such as the S-N curve, modified Goodman diagram and fatigue limit. A fundamental consideration is that a threshold level for ΔK for small/short cracks may be considerably lower than that for long cracks, leading to non-conservative life predictions using the traditional LEFM approach.

Extension of damage tolerance concepts to lower length scales and small cracks relies critically on deeper understanding of (a) small crack behavior including interactions with microstructure, (b) heterogeneity and anisotropy of cyclic slip processes associated with the orientation distribution of grains, and (c) development of reliable small crack monitoring techniques. The basic technology is not yet sufficiently advanced in any of these areas to implement damage tolerant design for HCF. The lack of consistency of existing crack initiation and fracture mechanics approaches for HCF leads to significant reservations concerning application of existing technology to damage tolerant design of aircraft gas turbine engines, for example. The intent of this paper is to focus on various aspects of the propagation of small cracks which merit further research to enhance the accuracy of HCF life prediction. Predominant concern will rest with polycrystalline metals, and most of the issues pertain to wide classes of alloys.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. McDowell
    • 1
  1. 1.G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, School of Materials Science and EngineeringGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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