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Two investment-cast A356 aluminum alloy actuators used for handles on passenger doors of commercial aircraft fractured during torquing at less than the design load. Visual examination showed that cracking had occurred through a machined side hole. Fractography revealed that the cracks originated in hot tear locations in the castings. Microprobe analysis of fracture surfaces in the hot tear region indicated a much higher silicon-to-aluminum ratio compared with the overload fracture area. No microstructural anomalies related to the failure were found during metallographic examination. It was concluded that the strength of the castings had been compromised by the presence of the casting defects. Modification of the gating system for casting was recommended to eliminate the hot tear zone. It was also suggested that the balance of the castings from the same manufacturing lot be radiographically inspected.

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