Fatigue Fracture of a Carbon Steel Counterbalance Spring Caused by Hydrogen Damage
The power-type counterbalance spring, formed from hardened-and-tempered carbon steel strip and subsequently subjected to phosphating treatment, fractured at the two locations during fatigue testing. A rust colored dark band at the inside edge of the fracture surface was disclosed during investigation. Etch pits were revealed by the cleaned surface which were never observed on properly phosphated coating. It was interpreted that the spring had been subjected to an abnormal acid attack in pickling or phosphating which had resulted in considerable absorption of hydrogen by the metal and hence embrittlement. The part was concluded to have cracked during phosphating or excessive acid pickling before phosphating.