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This article provides ASTM standard definitions for fatigue and describes the approaches that are used to design finite or infinite life, used in a complementary sense in fatigue design. It explains four distinct phases of fatigue: nucleation, structurally dependent crack propagation, crack propagation, and final instability. The article discusses the significant role that fatigue plays in industrial design applications.

The cracking process occurs slowly over the service life from various crack growth mechanisms such as fatigue, stress-corrosion cracking, creep, and hydrogen-induced cracking. Each of these mechanisms has certain characteristic features that are used in failure analysis to determine the cause of cracking or crack growth. This article discusses the macroscopic and microscopic basis of understanding and modeling fracture resistance of metals. It describes the four major types of failure modes in engineering alloys, namely, dimpled rupture, ductile striation formation, cleavage or quasicleavage, and intergranular failure. Certain fundamental characteristics of fracture observed in precipitation-hardening alloys, ferrous alloys, titanium alloys are also discussed.

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