Microstructural degradation of bearing steels
Solano Alvarez, Wilberth
Bhadeshia, H. K. D. H.
University of Cambridge
Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy
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Solano Alvarez, W. (2015). Microstructural degradation of bearing steels (doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.14283
The aim of the work presented in this thesis is to clarify one of the most fundamental aspects of fatigue damage in bearings steels through critical experiments, in particular whether damage in the form of cracks precedes hard “white-etching matter" formation, which is carbon supersaturated nanoscaled ferrite. Heat treatments have been designed to create four different crack types and distributions: scarce martensite plate cracks, fine grain boundary cracks, abundant martensite plate cracks, and surface cracks. Subsequent rolling contact fatigue experiments showed that the amount of hard white-etching matter is higher in pre-cracked samples compared to those without prior damage and that its formation mechanism is the frictional contact of disconnected surfaces within the bulk that elevate the temperature and localise deformation. These key experiments indicate that hard white-etching matter is the consequence, not the cause, of damage. Therefore, one way to avoid white-etching matter is by increasing the toughness of the material. The macroscopically homogenous distribution of microcracks proved also to be a useful rolling contact fatigue life enhancer due to damage deflection via crack branching and a powerful trap for diffusible hydrogen. Successful trapping was corroborated by the inability of hydrogen to cause crack propagation via embrittlement or accelerate white-etching matter generation during rolling contact fatigue. By also studying the behaviour of a nanostructured bainitic steel under rolling contact fatigue, it was found that its degradation mechanism is ductile void formation at bainitic ferrite/stress-induced martensite interfaces, followed by growth and coalescence into larger voids that lead to fracture along the direction of the softer phase as opposed to the conventional damage mechanism in 52100 steel of crack initiation at inclusions and propagation. Given the relevance of phase quantification in nanobainite and the possible surface artefacts introduced by preparation, alternative methods to X-ray diffraction such as magnetic measurements were also investigated. The lack of hard white-etching matter obtained in the carbide-free nanostructured bainite led to conclude that an alternative route to mitigate hard white-etching matter could be by eliminating pre-eutectoid carbides from the microstructure, therefore restricting their dissolution and ultimate carbon supersaturation of the mechanically deformed and homogenised nanoferrite.
Steels, Metallurgy, Bearings, Microstructure, Martensite, Bainite, White etching matter, Wear, Rolling contact fatigue
CONACyT-Cambridge Trusts, Roberto Rocca Education Program, The Ironmongers' Company
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.14283
CC0 1.0 Universal
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/
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