Ejection seat quick-release fitting: Quantitative fractography and estimation of local toughness using the topography of the fracture surface
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After a quick-release fitting of an ejection seat broke, an investigation was performed to determine the manner and cause of crack propagation. Most fractography-based investigations aim to characterize only qualitative characteristics, such as the fracture orientation and origin position, topology, and details of interactions with microstructural features. The aim of this investigation was to use quantitative fractography as a tool to extract information, including striation spacing and size of the stretched zone, in order to make a direct correlation with fracture mechanic concepts.
As the crack propagated, striations were created on the fracture surface as a result of service-induced load changes. The size of the striations were measured to estimate crack propagation rate. Remaining lifetime estimates were also made. The dimensions of plastically stretched zones found at the tips of the cracks were evaluated using electron micrograph stereo image pairs to characterize local fracture toughness.
To complete the failure analysis, nondestructive evaluation, metallographic examination, and chemical investigations were carried out. No secondary cracks could be found. Most of the broken parts showed that the microstructure, the hardness, and the chemical composition of the Al-alloy were within the specification, but some of the cracked parts were manufactured using a different material than that specified.
KeywordsAl-alloy crack propagation fatigue fracture fracture toughness quantitative fractography stretch zone
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