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A splined shaft on a wood chip-to-fiber refiner failed during equipment start-up. The shaft broke into two pieces at a location close to the end of the splined part of the shaft. The failed component showed the classical fatigue-cracking fracture face. The shaft had a diam of approximately 140 mm (5.5 in.) in the unsplined section and was made of 4340 Ni-Cr-Mo alloy steel heat treated to a uniform hardness of HRC 31. Cracks from at least seven different origins had coalesced to produce the single large crack that resulted in failure. The origins of these cracks were on the flanks of the splines. SEM examination revealed the splined shaft failed by fretting fatigue.

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