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A fracture mechanics based failure analysis and life prediction of a large centrifugal fan made from low-carbon, medium-strength steel was undertaken following shortcomings in attempts to explain its fatigue life from start stop cycles alone. Measurements of the fracture toughness and flaw size at failure, coupled with quantitative SEM fractography using striation spacing methods, revealed that the cyclic stress amplitudes just prior to failure were much larger than expected, in this particular case. Subsequent improvements in fan design and fabrication have effectively alleviated the problem of slow, high cycle fatigue crack growth, at normal operating stresses in similar fans.

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