Publications

Moving cracks form white etching areas during rolling contact fatigue in bearings

Morsdorf, L. and Mayweg, D. and Li, Y. and Diederichs, A. and Raabe, D. and Herbig, M.

MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING A
Volume: 771 Pages:
DOI: 10.1016/j.msea.2019.138659
Published: 2020

Abstract
White etching cracks (WECs) and the associated white etching areas (WEAs) are responsible for failure of widely spread engineering applications such as bearings and railways. Although the phenomenon is known for more than 100 years, the underlying mechanisms are still a matter of debate. In this work, we thoroughly investigate a 100Cr6 wind turbine gearbox bearing after failure in service operation. Based on our findings from detailed microstructure characterization on multiple length scales we formulate a new consistent explanation for the formation of WEAs during rolling contact fatigue. We propose a mechanism of moving WECs - not only in terms of conventional crack propagation but also as a movement of the crack normal to its plane. During cyclic loading the crack continuously changes its position and leaves behind a severely plastically deformed area consisting of ferritic nano-grains, i.e. the WEAs. The atomic-scale delocalization of the crack plane in a single loading cycle adds up to micron-sized WEAs during repetitive loading/unloading. After the initial formation of a fatigue crack around inclusions, crack face rubbing occurs during compressive loading cycles. This leads to the formation of WEA by local severe plastic deformation. It also leads to partial cohesion of the abutting crack faces and material transport between them. As a result, the WEC opens at a slightly shifted position with respect to its former location during unloading. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.

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