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Introduction to Metal Fatigue-Causes and Cures

Semih Genculu, P.E.

Fatigue failures occur due to the application of fluctuating stresses that are much lower than the stress required to cause failure during a single application of stress. It has been estimated that fatigue contributes to approximately 90% of all mechanical service failures. Fatigue is a problem that can affect any part or component that moves. Automobiles on roads, aircraft wings and fuselages, ships at sea, nuclear reactors, jet engines, and land-based turbines are all subject to fatigue failures.

When machine parts fail statically, they usually develop a large deflection. Because the stress has exceeded the yield strength, and if the deformation is detected, the part is replaced before fracture actually occurs. Thus many static failures give visible warning in advance. But a fatigue failure gives no warning! It is sudden and complete, and hence dangerous. It is relatively simple to design against a static failure, because our knowledge is comprehensive. Fatigue is a much more complicated phenomenon, only partially understood, and the engineer seeking competence must acquire as much knowledge of the subject as possible.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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