The mechanism controlling the fatigue life of a precipitation-hardened Al-Mg-Si alloy (6061-T6) at a high-cycle fatigue (HCF) regime of over 10 7 cycles was investigated in detail. It was found that over 90% of the total fatigue life was occupied by the growth process of a microstructurally small crack at relatively low stress amplitude. The small crack was often found to be arrested and halted for a long period (more than 10 6 cycles) before it began to grow again, which resulted in a significantly slow growth process. The small crack was then analyzed not only by the conventional fractography but also by the cross-sectional observation of the crack tip region using a focused ion beam and transmission electron microscopy. These observations, supplemented also by a grain orientation analysis using electron backscattered diffraction, explicitly revealed the following points: (i) the small crack growth observed on the specimen surface is primarily related to facet-type cracking that occurs exclusively at the specimen surface; (ii) the growth direction of the small crack has strong anisotropy (i.e. surface-induced growth); (iii) the facet-type cracking is related to the formation of persistent fine slip bands that accompany no structural change of the matrix. On the basis of these results, the micromechanism of small crack growth and its relation to the concept of fatigue limit at the HCF regime is discussed in detail.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Ceramics and Composites
- Polymers and Plastics
- Metals and Alloys