Microstructure-sensitive fatigue modeling of heat treated and shot peened martensitic gear steels
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High strength secondary hardening lath martensitic steel is a strong candidate for high performance and reliable transmission systems in aircraft and automotives. The fatigue resistance of this material depends both on intrinsic microstructure attributes, such as fine scale (M2C) precipitates, and extrinsic attributes such as nonmetallic primary inclusions. Additionally, the aforementioned attributes are affected by processing history. The objective of this research is to develop a computational framework to quantify the influence of both extrinsic (primary inclusions and residual stresses) and intrinsic (martensite laths and carbides) microstructure attributes on fatigue crack formation and the early stage of microstructurally small crack (MSC) growth that dominate high cycle fatigue (HCF) lifetime. To model the fatigue response at various microstructure scales, a hierarchical approach is adopted. A simplified scheme is developed to simulate processing effects such as shot peening that is suitable to introduce representative residual stresses prior to conducting fatigue calculations. Novel strategies are developed to couple process route (residual stresses) and microstructure scale response for comprehensive analysis of fatigue potency at critical life-limiting primary inclusions in gear steels. Relevant microstructure-scale response descriptors that permit relative assessment of fatigue resistance are identified. Fatigue crack formation and early growth is highly heterogeneous at the grain scale. Hence, a scheme for physically-based constitutive models that is suitable to investigate crack formation and early growth in martensitic steel is introduced and implemented. An extreme value statistical/probabilistic framework to assess the influence of variability of various microstructure attributes such as size and spatial distribution of primary inclusions on minimum fatigue crack formation life is devised. Understanding is sought regarding the relative role of microstructure attributes in the HCF process, thereby providing a basis to modify process route and/or composition to enhance fatigue resistance. Parametric studies are conducted to assess the effect of hot isostatic pressing and introduction of compliant coatings at debonded inclusion-matrix interface on enhancement of fatigue resistance. A comprehensive set of 3D computational tools and algorithms for hierarchical microstructure-sensitive fatigue analysis of martensitic gear steels is developed as an outcome of this research; such tools and methodologies will lend quantitative and qualitative support to designing improved, fatigue-resistant materials and accelerating insertion of new or improved materials into service.