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A 5000-gal (20,000-L) hot-water holding tank fractured at a large automotive manufacturing plant. The tank was made from Type 304 austenitic stainless steel. The inner diameter of the tank displayed a macroscopic, web-like network of cracks that deceptively suggested intergranular stress-corrosion cracking. The problem, however, originated on the outside surface of the tank where a tensile stress (due to low applied stress and fabrication-induced residual stresses) accelerated the growth of numerous stress corrosion cracks that eventually broke through to the inner surface, causing leakage and ultimately failure.

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