Brittle Fracture of Alloy Steel Chain Links Because of Excessive Hardness
Several thousands of new 16 mm diam alloy steel sling chains used for handling billets failed by chain-link fractures. No failures were found to have occurred before delivery of the new chains. It was observed that the links had broken at the weld. It was found that all failures had occurred in links having hardness values in the range of 375 to 444 HRB. It was revealed by the supplier that the previous hardness level of 302 to 375 HRB was increased to minimize wear which made the links were made notch sensitive and resulted in fractures that initiated at the butt-weld flash on the inside surfaces of the links. A further reduction in ductility was believed to have been caused by lower temperatures during winter months. Thus, the failure was concluded to have been caused in a brittle manner caused by the notch sensitivity of the high hardness material at lower temperatures. The chains were retempered to a hardness of 302 to 375 HRB as a corrective measure and subsequently ordered chains had this hardness as a requirement.