Effect of near-surface residual stress and microstructure modification from machining on the fatigue endurance of a tool steel

F. Ghanem, H. Sidhom, C. Braham, Michael E. Fitzpatrick

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This study concerns the effect of machining on the fatigue life of an EN X155CrMoV12 tool steel (SAE J438b), with regard to the generation of near-surface residual stress and microstructural modification of the machined surface. Two possible methods for machining tool steels were compared: electro-discharge machining (EDM), a high energy density process, and milling, a more conventional cutting process. Particular attention was given to characterization of the surface roughness, microstructure, and residual stress, using a combination of microstructural analysis, crack observation, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), x-ray diffraction (XRD), and chemical composition changes by energy-dispersive x-ray. A decrease of around 35% in the fatigue limit was observed for the EDM samples, compared with the milled samples. This was attributed to a tensile residual stress state after EDM, combined with significant phase transformation and hydrogen embrittlement. The milled surfaces showed no microstructural transformation or surface cracking and contained compressive residual stresses, all of which contributed to an improved fatigue resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-639
JournalJournal of Materials Engineering and Performance
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2002


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  • Characterization and Evaluation of Materials
  • Materials Science
  • Tribology
  • Corrosion and Coatings
  • Quality Control
  • Reliability
  • Safety and Risk
  • Engineering Design

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