Overload Failure of a Quench-Cracked AISI 4340 Steel Threaded Rod
An AISI 4340 threaded steel connecting rod that was part of a connecting linkage used between a parachute and an instrumented drop test assembly fractured under high dynamic loading when the assembly was dropped from an airplane. A large flaw that originated from the root of a machined thread groove was visible on the fracture surface. Heavy oxidation at elevated temperatures was indicated as most of the surface of the flaw was black. Fine secondary cracks aligned transverse to the growth direction was revealed by scanning electron microscopy. It was established that intergranular cracking observed in this alloy was caused during heat treating as the thread root served as an effective stress concentration and induced quench cracking. It was found that fracture in the overload region occurred by a ductile void growth and coalescence process. Premature failure of the threaded rod was thus attributed to the presence of the quench crack flaw caused by an improper machining sequence and heat treatment practice.