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This chapter provides a brief review of industry’s battle with fatigue and fracture and what has been learned about the underlying failure mechanisms and their effect on product lifetime and service. It recounts some of the tragic events that led to the discovery of fatigue and brittle fracture and explains how they reshaped design philosophies, procedures, and tools. It also discusses the influence of material and manufacturing defects, operating conditions, stress concentration and intensity, temperature and pressure, and cyclic loading, all of which play a role in the onset of fatigue cracking and thus should be considered when predicting useful product life.

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