Failure Analysis of Steady Clamps Used in Electrified Railway
Two clamps that support overhead power lines in an electrified rail system fractured within six months of being installed. The clamps are made of CuNiSi alloy, a type of precipitation-strengthening nickel-silicon bronze. To identify the root cause of failure, the rail operator led an investigation that included fractographic and microstructural analysis, hardness testing, inductively coupled plasma spectroscopy, and finite-element analysis. The fracture was shown to be brittle in nature and covered with oxide flakes, but no other flaws relevant to the failure were observed. The investigation results suggest that the root cause of failure was a forging lap that occurred during manufacturing. Precracks induced by the forging defect and the influence of preload stress (due to bolt torque) caused the premature failure.
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