The outer tube, or stem, on a bicycle frame fractured after two years of use. Detailed investigation revealed that the lower stem bearing had been loose for some time and the bottom bearing cup contained many cracks. Metallographic examination of the chromium-plated cup confirmed the brittle nature of the cracks, located along prior austenite boundaries. The failure was attributed to hydrogen embrittlement due to improper manufacturing procedures following chromium plating. The cracking led to looseness in the bearing and consequent scoring, cracking, and overloading of the stem.
I. Le May, C. Bagnall, Bicycle Failure, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Household Products and Consumer Goods, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.homegoods.c9001694
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