Brittle Failure of Locking Collar Produced From Rolled 4140 Grade Steel Plate
The locking collar on a machine failed suddenly when the shaft it restrained was inadvertently subjected to an axial load slightly higher than the allowable working load. The locking collar fractured abruptly, producing four large fragments. This allowed the shaft to be propelled forcefully in the direction of the load, causing substantial damage to other machinery components in the vicinity. The failed component, which was 43 cm (17 in.) in diameter, was machined from 4140 plate and heat treated to 34 to 36 HRC. Analysis (visual inspection, composite micrographs, scanning electron microscopy, and mechanical-property analysis) supported the conclusions that the alloy steel plate used in this application contained significant brittle microstructural fibering or banding. This condition produced considerable anisotropy in ductility and toughness as revealed by mechanical testing. Unfortunately, the potential effects of anisotropy were apparently neglected when this component was designed and manufactured from the plate stock, because the loading was applied in a direction that stressed the weakest planes in the material, that is, a direction normal to the fibering. No recommendations were made.