Fracture of Poppet-Valve Stems Due to Incorrect Material Selection
A series of poppet-valve stems fabricated from 17-4 PH (AISI type 630) stainless steel failed prematurely in service during the development of a large combustion assembly. The poppet valves were part of a scavenging system that evacuated the assembly after each combustion cycle. The function of the valve is to open and close a port; thus, the valve is subjected to both impact and tensile loading. Analysis (visual inspection, hardness testing, and stress analysis) supported the conclusions that the valve stems were impact loaded to stresses in excess of their yield strength. That they failed in the threaded portion also suggests a stress-concentration effect. Recommendations included changing the material spec to a higher-strength material with greater impact strength. In this case, it was recommended that the stems, despite any possible design changes, be manufactured from an alloy such as PH 13-8Mo, which can be processed to a yield strength of 1379 MPa (200 ksi), with impact energies of the order of 81 J (60 ft·lbf) at room temperature.