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Engineers are responsible in choosing the suitable material for a specific

product. The product must not only fulfil the requirement demanded by the
customer but also have the safety features which coexist with its function. In
design, materials selection can be a complex, iterative process that solves a
particular set of engineering objectives for a given component. Materials
selection and design are also closely related to the objectives of failure analysis
and prevention. By predicting the behaviour of the material upon any changes,
the engineers are able to choose the suitable material. The level of performance
of components in service depends on several factors such as inherent properties
of materials, load or stress system, environment and maintenance.

This is an

important aspect as proven by Smithers Rapra, a material experts claim that

45% of all failures encountered are in some part due to a poor material choice
and specification according to their failure diagnostics statistics [1]. The failure in
engineering material component not only caused from the poor material




overloading and even






inadequate maintenance. Before manufacturing the

product, the material needs to be tested to determine the quality of a material

since this may be one aspect of process control in production plant, to determine
such properties as strength, hardness, and ductility, to check for flaws within a
material or in a finished component and to assess the likely performance of the
material in a particular service condition. These material testing such as tensile
test and compression test will provide information about the material as well as
its performance capabilities.
Although many methods of testing on the materials are done, the
materials may also still fail in service, sometimes with disastrous results which
endanger life of many. In order to avoid such disasters occurring, the designer
avoids using materials continuously at their maximum allowable stress. This is
done by employing a factor of safety in the design where the design stress does
not exceed 50 % of the yield stress. Once the material is deformed, the failures
of the material occur where the material cannot behave according to its original

Figure 1.0

Fractography surface of railway rim cracking. [2]


Failure of material is caused when the material is deformed due to the
load or stress system, environment, maintenance or its inherent properties of
materials as mentioned earlier. The failure of material can be explained the
stress-strain graph below:

Figure 2.1 Stress -strain Curve [3]

Most of materials possess an elastic limit as shown above. When stress is

applied, the material will strain in an elastic manner up to a certain point.
Beyond this point the strain developed is no longer directly proportional to the
applied stress, and also, the strain developed is no longer fully recoverable. Upon
unloading of the stress elastic strain is recovered but the material will be left in a
state of permanent, or plastic, strain. However the mechanism of plastic
behaviour is not the same for all classes of materials and it is necessary to
consider the various materials groups separately. Metals, in general, are
characterized by possessing high elastic modulus values, and also the ability to
be strained m a plastic manner. Some metals will begin to deform plastically at

very low values of stress and will yield to a very considerable extent before
fracture occurs. The failure of material varies according to several factors. There
are many type of failure of material which includes foreign object damage (FOD),
fatigue failure, corrosion, creep failure and many more. [4] Despite from that the
most common failures are creep failure, fatigue failure and corrosion of the
Creep failure happens usually occurs at elevated temperatures since slip
in the lattice structure is easier at this temperature. Even in designing the steam
and gas turbines the material for the rotor and stator turbine blade are carefully
chosen to minimize the creep failure. It would be catastrophic if the rapidly
rotating blades of the rotor touched the stator blades due to dimensional change
through creep. Creep can be easily defined as gradual extension of a material
under a constant applied load. Creep is an important factor when designing
metals when they are required to work continuously at high temperatures. The
phenomena of the creep failure are shown below:

Figure 2.2 Creep Curve [5]

The Primary Creep or the 1st stage creep are fairly rapid rate but slows
down as work hardening (strain hardening) sets in and the strain rate decreases.
The extension due to creep is additional to the instantaneous elongation of
material to be expected when any tensile load is applied. During the secondary
creep period, the increase in strain is approximately proportional to time. At this
stage the strain rate is constant and at its lowest value. During the tertiary creep
period of creep, the strain rate increases rapidly, necking occurs and the test
piece fails. Thus the initial stress, which was within the elastic range and did not
produce early failure, did eventually result in failure after some period of time.

More than 75 % of failures in engineering components are attributed to

fatigue failure, thus knowledge of fatigue to be implemented when designing the
product is very important [6]. Fatigue failure happens when the material
subjected to a stress which is alternately applied and removed a very large
number of times, or which varies between two limiting values, will fracture at a
very much lower value of stress than in a normal tensile test. The fatigue crack
which ultimately causes fatigue failure usually starts at a point of stress
concentration. The detail on the fatigue failure phenomena will be discussed in
the next section.
Corrosion is another type of common failure in metals. Choosing the right
material is important in design consideration. Thee environment aspects needs
to be included since the availability of oxygen in the environment may initiate
oxidation which than leads to corrosion. In order to avoid corrosion to take place,
an anti-rust agent should be applied periodically. The corrosion problem can be
overcome by using a composite material.
Fatigue failure can occur at loads considerably lower than tensile or yield
strengths of material under a static load. Fatigue failure is brittle-like relatively
little plastic deformation even in normally ductile materials which is sudden and
catastrophic. Fatigue failure proceeds in three distinct stages: crack initiation in
the areas of stress concentration, incremental crack propagation and final
catastrophic failure. Cyclic stresses characterized by maximum, minimum and
mean stress, the range of stress, the stress amplitude, and the stress ratio.
Below shows the cyclic stress curve which leads to fatigue failure. Fatigue failure
may happen below the yield strength with condition of cyclic loading. Stress are
applied as below where the stress maximum is applied and unloading of the
stress is done until the stress minimum point. The loading process continue by
applying the same amount of stress and the pattern of the loading-unloading
continue which then leads to fatigue failure.

Figure 3.1 Cyclic Stress curve [7]

The material having fatigue failure underwent the repeated stress cycle in
which maximum and minimum stresses are asymmetrical relative to the zero
stress level; mean stress m, range of stress r , and stress amplitude a are
indicated. S-N

(Stress-Number of cycles to failure) curve defines number of

cycles-to-failure for given cyclic stress. For frequencies < 200Hz, metals are
insensitive to frequency; fatigue life in polymers is frequency dependent. Below
shows the S-N behavior curve.

Figure 3.2 S-N curve [8]

According to the graph above , the higher the magnitude of the stress, the
smaller the number of cycles the material is capable to sustain before failure.
Certain materials have a fatigue limit or endurance limit which represents a
stress level below which the material does not fail and can be cycled infinitely. If
the applied stress level is below the endurance limit of the material, the
structure is said to have an infinite life. Many non-ferrous metals and alloys, such
as aluminum, magnesium, and copper alloys, do not exhibit well-defined
endurance limits. These materials instead display a continuously decreasing S-N
response, similar to Curve B in Figure 3.2. In such cases a fatigue strength Sf for
a given number of cycles must be specified. An effective endurance limit for

these materials is sometimes defined as the stress that causes failure at 1x10 8 or
5x108 loading cycles. [8]
Fatigue will ultimately occur regardless of the magnitude of the stress. For
these materials, the fatigue response is specified as fatigue strength, which is
defined as the stress level at which failure will occur for some specified number
of cycles. There are two type of cyclic fatigue namely the high-cyclic fatigue and
low-cyclic fatigue. High-cyclic fatigue(HCF) is for low stress levels where
deformations are totally elastic, longer lives result. This requires large numbers
of cycles are required to produce fatigue failure. This type of failure is associated
with fatigue lives greater than about 104 to 107 cycles. In contrast, the low-cyclic
fatigue (LCF) is associated with relatively high loads that produce not only elastic
strain but also some plastic strain during each cycle. Consequently, fatigue lives
are relatively short occurs at less than about 10 4 to 105 cycles. Figure below
shows clear difference between the two behaviors.

Figure 3.3 S-N curve with LCF and HCF. [7]



Failure of material usually found when the material already deformed as it

can clearly see by naked eyes. However the fatigue failure process can be
observe from the microstructure view. The fatigue failure process can be divided

into three phases. In the first phase namely crack initiation phase. As the crack
initiated a fatigue crack propagates along high shear stress planes (45 degrees)
. This is known as stage I or the short crack growth propagation stage. The crack
propagates until it is caused to decelerate by a microstructural barrier such as a
grain boundary, inclusions, or pearlitic zones, which cannot accommodate the
initial crack growth direction. Therefore, grain refinement is capable of increasing
fatigue strength of the material by the insertion of a large quantity of
microstructural barriers, i.e. grain boundaries, which have to be overcome in the
stage I of propagation. Surface mechanical treatments such as shot peening and
surface rolling, contribute to the increase in the number of microstructural
barriers per unit length due to the flattening of the grains.

In the crack propagation phase, the stress intensity factor K increases as a

consequence of crack growth or higher applied loads, slips start to develop in
different planes close to the crack tip, initiating this crack propagation stage.
Some of the crack join together and begin to propagate through the material in a
direction that is perpendicular to the maximum tensile stress. Eventually, the
growth of one or a few crack of the larger cracks will loading, the growth of the
dominate crack or cracks will continue until the remaining un-cracked section of
the component can no longer support the load. At this point, the fracture
toughness is exceeded and the remaining cross-section of the material
experiences rapid fracture. Finally, stage III is related to unstable crack growth
as Kmax approaches KIC. At this stage, crack growth is controlled by static modes of
failure and is very sensitive to the microstructure, load ratio, and stress state
(plane stress or plane strain loading). Macroscopically, the fatigue fracture
surface can be divided into two distinct regions. The first region corresponds to
the stable fatigue crack growth and presents a smooth appearance due to the
friction between the crack wake face. Concentric marks known as beach marks
can be seen on the fatigue fracture surface, as a result of successive arrests or a
decrease in the rate of fatigue crack growth due to a temporary load drop, or due
to an overload that introduces a compressive residual stress field ahead of the
crack tip. The rapid overload fracture is the final stage which is the failure where
the material is permanently deformed. The process can be clearly seen from the
figure below.

Figure 4.1 Stages in Fatigue Failure [9]

The effect of fatigue failure also can be seen by naked eyes. By examining
the fracture side of the failure, two distinct regions can be felt. One being smooth
or burnished as a result of the material. The microstructure are as below :

Figure 4.2 The surface of a fatigue fracture [9]

Beachmarks, or clamshell marks, may be seen in fatigue failures of materials

that are used for a period of time, allowed to rest for an equivalent time period
and the loaded again as in factory usage. Striations are thought to be steps in
crack propagation, were the distance depends on the stress range. Beachmarks
may contain thousands of striations as shown below:

Figure 4.3 Beachmark as the result of fatigue failure [9]


The fatigue failure ends the life of the product. How the lifespan of the
material can be prolong by taken measures that may prevent the fatigue failure
of the material. Before manufacturing the product prevention can be made
during the design process by eliminate or reduce stress raisers by streamlining
the part or component, avoid sharp surface tears resulting from punching,
stamping, shearing, or other processes, prevent the development of surface
discontinuities during processing and reduce or eliminate tensile residual
stresses caused by manufacturing. Other than that , secondary process of
strengthening mechanism can be apply after it is manufactured can also be done
to avoid the failure of the material.

Strengthening mechanism alters the

properties of the material. Its ability to withstand load not only restricted below
the yield strength. The load can be applied above the yield strength as shown

Figure 5.1 The range of strain hardening ability on the stress strain curve [10]

One of the strengthening mechanism is the work hardening in which

dislocations interact with each other by generating stress fields in the material.
The interaction between the stress fields of dislocations can impede dislocation
motion by repulsive or attractive interactions. Additionally, if two dislocations
cross, dislocation line entanglement occurs, causing the formation of a jog which
opposes dislocation motion. These entanglements and jogs act as pinning points,
which oppose dislocation motion. Increasing the dislocation density increases the
yield strength which results in a higher shear stress required to move the
dislocations. Secondly is alloying or solid solution hardening. Solute atoms of one
element are added to another, resulting in either substitutional or interstitial
point defects in the crystal. The solute atoms cause lattice distortions that
impede dislocation motion, increasing the yield stress of the material. Solute
atoms have stress fields around them which can interact with those of
dislocations. The presence of solute atoms imparts compressive or tensile
stresses to the lattice, depending on solute size, which interfere with nearby
dislocations, causing the solute atoms to act as potential barriers to dislocation
propagation. Increasing the concentration of the solute atoms will increase the
yield strength of a material.
Precipitation hardening is another method in which second phase
precipitates act as pinning points in a similar manner to solutes, though the
particles are not necessarily single atoms. Dislocation in the atomic arrangement
will overcome the slip from happening. Although these measures can be taken to
reduce the fatigue failure, upon high loading and repeated loading may also
cause failure when the load exceeds 50% of the yield strength.


Failure on material is a common problem encounter in the industries.
Measures were taken before the manufacturing process by choosing the right
material that suits the function as well as able to have long lifespan that may.
This is important as it avoid endangering the society which uses these materials.
However choosing the suitable material alone does not ensure to prolong the life
span of the material. One of the common failures is fatigue failure which result
from the repetitive loading on the material despite the load is below the yield

strength. The cyclic loading causes crack initiation on the material followed by
the crack propagation.

When ample amount of stress concentration and

intensity occur at the crack , the failure of the material occur. The failure is
permanent where it can no longer turn to its original form. The fatigue failure can










precipitation hardening. These activities help to increase the strength of the



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