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Fatigue failure of engineering components and structures results from progressive fracture caused by cyclic or fluctuating loads. Fatigue is an important potential cause of mechanical failure, because most engineering components or structures are or can be subjected to cyclic loads during their lifetime. This article focuses on fractography of fatigue. It provides an abbreviated summary of fatigue processes and mechanisms: fatigue crack initiation, fatigue crack propagation, and final fracture,. Characteristic fatigue fracture features that can be discerned visually or under low magnification are then described. Typical microscopic features observed on structural metals are presented subsequently, followed by a brief discussion on fatigue in polymers and polymer-matrix composites.

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