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A forged alloy steel arm of a lifting fork with an approximate cross section of 150 x 240 mm (5.92 x 9.45 in.) fractured after only a short service life on a lift truck. The fracture surface had the appearance of a fracture originating from a surface crack. Analysis (visual inspection, 200x micrographs, chemical analysis, and metallographic examination) supported the conclusion that the primary cause of the failure was the brittleness (lack of impact toughness) of the steel. The coarse bainitic microstructure was inadequate for the service application. The microstructure resulted from either improper heat treatment or no heat treatment after the forging operation. The surface cracks in the lifting-fork arm acted as starter notches (stress raisers), assisting in the initiation of fracture. No recommendations were made.

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