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The cause of low fatigue life measurements obtained during routine fatigue testing of IMI 550 titanium alloy compressor blades used in the first stage of the high-pressure compressor of an aeroengine was investigated. The origin of the fatigue cracks was associated with a spherical bead of metal sticking to the blade surface in each case. Scanning electron microscope revealed that the cracks initiated at the point of contact of the bead with the blade surface. Energy-dispersive X-ray analysis indicated that the bead composition was the same as that of the blade. Detailed investigation revealed that fused material from the blade had been thrown onto the cold blade surface during a grinding operation to remove the targeting bosses from the forgings, thereby causing local embrittlement. It was recommended that extreme care be taken during grinding operations to prevent the hot, fused particles from striking the blade surface.

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