Fracture: Ductile Fracture
A crumpled piece of sheet metal had two cracks in a T-junction shape. The relative locations of shear lips in the cracks allowed deduction of which crack happened first, and which direction the cracks propagated.
The stub-shaft assembly which was part of the agitator shaft in a polyvinyl chloride reactor, fractured in service after a nut that retained a loose sleeve around the smaller-diam section of the shaft had been tightened several times to reduce leakage. The shaft was made of ASTM A105, grade 2 steel, and the larger-diam section was covered with a type 316 stainless steel end cap. The cap was welded to each end using type ER316 stainless steel filler metal. The forged steel shaft was revealed to have fractured at approximately 90 deg to the shaft axis in the weld metal and not in the heat-affected zone of the forged steel shaft. Microscopic investigation and chemical analysis of the steel shaft revealed presence of martensite (offered a path of easy crack propagation) around the fusion line and dilution of the weld metal by the carbon steel shaft. The microstructure was found to be martensitic as the fusion line was approached. The forged steel shaft was concluded to have failed by ductile fracture and possible reasons were discussed. Corrective measures adopted in the replacement shaft were specified.