Brittle Fracture of a Case-Hardened Component Because of Low Impact Resistance and Grinding Burns
The 8620 steel latch tip, carburized and then induction hardened to a minimum surface hardness of 62 HRC, on the main-clutch stop arm on a business machine fractured during normal operation when the latch tip was subjected to intermittent impact loading. Fractographic examination 9x showed a brittle appearance at the fractures. Micrograph examination of an etched section disclosed several small cracks. Fracture of the parts may have occurred through similar cracks. Also observed was a burned layer approximately 0.075 mm (0.003 in.) deep on the latch surface, and hardness at a depth of 0.025 mm (0.001 in.) in this layer was 52 HRC (a minimum of 55 HRC was specified). Thus, the failure was caused by brittle fracture in the hardness-transition zone as the result of excessive impact loading. The burned layer indicated that the cracks had been caused by improper grinding after hardening. Redesign was recommended to include reinforcing the backing web of the tip, increasing the radius at the relief step to 1.5 x 0.5 mm (0.06 x 0.02 in.), the use of proper grinding techniques, and a requirement that the hardened zone extend a minimum of 1.5 mm (0.06 in.) beyond the step.