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Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205

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Engineering Failure Analysis


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/efa

Failure analysis of an isometric polygonal shaft fracture


Wei Li , Qing Yan
School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Science and Technology Beijing, 30 Xueyuan Road, Haidian District, 100083 Beijing, China

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Failure analysis of an isometric polygonal shaft used in a coal mine reducer has been carried out.
Received 18 March 2015 Chemical analysis, micro-structural characterization, metallographic test, hardness measure-
Received in revised form 29 July 2015 ments, theoretical calculation and nite element simulation were used for the analysis to deter-
Accepted 24 August 2015
mine the fracture reasons. The analysis results show that the feature of the isometric polygonal
Available online 30 August 2015
shaft belongs to fatigue fracture and is multi-source fatigue. Fatigue sources have occurred on
the surface of the shaft and the fracture of the shaft is caused by both bending and torsion. The
Keywords: eccentricity between the shaft and hub hole can lead to large bending deformation which can gen-
Isometric polygonal shaft
erate high stress concentration. The large eccentricity can be the root cause of the fracture.
Fatigue
2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Eccentricity
Stress concentration

1. Introduction

It is a keyless connection which makes use of a non-circular cross section shaft and the same cross section hub hole in this paper.
There is no source of stress concentration in this connection and the fatigue strength is higher than spline connection. An automatic
centering function is the prominent advantage of the connection and this is very important to analyze the fracture of the shaft.
Several researchers have studied on the failed shafts [14]. Recently, researchers indicate that mechanical fatigue produced by
cyclic bending load on the lets and steady torsion was probably the most common cause of crankshafts failure [58]. Zhanqi
Zhang and Zhongjun Yin [9] have investigated a wind turbine main shaft and the results show that stress concentration on the
shaft surface are the main reasons that result in fracture of the main shaft. G. Urquiza and J.C. Garcia used optical microscopy, electron
microscopy and nite element analysis to study the cause of a failure which belongs to a turbine auxiliary shaft. Results show that the
failure was caused by high cycle and low stress fatigue [10]. Gys van Zyl and Abdulmohsin Al-Sahli used various investigation methods
to determine the failure of conveyor pulley shaft and the root cause. It was concluded that the shaft failed due to fatigue and that the
failure was caused by improper reconditioning of the shaft during routine overhaul [11].
The analyzed isometric polygonal shaft belongs to a coal mine reducer. It was used in underground scrapper conveyor. The frac-
tured region was located at the end of the shaft and at the hub contact region. It had a big impact to the production and security.
The power part, transmission part, picture of the real reducer and the fracture position are shown in Fig. 1.
The dimensions of isometric polygonal shaft make reference to the German standard DIN32711. The part drawing of the shaft is
shown in Fig. 2(a) and the cross section of the shaft is shown in Fig. 2(b).

2. Failure analysis

In order to study the main cause of failure thoroughly, the following several aspect works were done: (1) experimental analysis,
(2) visual and microscopic observation, (3) theoretical calculation and (4) nite element simulation. The failure part is shown in Fig. 3.

Corresponding author.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.engfailanal.2015.08.029
1350-6307/ 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205 193

Fig. 1. The transmission part and the fracture position.

2.1. Chemical analysis

Material quality plays an important role on the performance of the isometric polygonal shaft and the material is 17CrNiMo6. Sam-
pling from the fracture shaft and the method of spectrum analysis was used to detect chemical composition. The measured and spec-
ied compositions of the shaft are shown in Table 1.
As shown in Table 1, only the carbon content is over 0.02% and other component content is in accordance with the requirement of
17CrNiMo6 steel [12].

Fig. 2. The part drawings of the shaft.


194 W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205

Fig. 3. The location and morphology of the fracture.

2.2. Hardness test

We have numbered 1, 2 and 3 on the three outer surfaces and the core of the isometric polygonal shaft which is shown in Fig. 4.
Results of rockwell micro-hardness measurements are shown in Tables 2 and 3. These hardness values are consistent with the
17CrNiMo6 steel normalized and tempered specied by manufacturer.

2.3. Metallographic test

The optical micro-structure of the edge surface and core surface of the shaft is shown in Figs. 5 and 6, and according to the pictures,
it belongs to bainite structure. The hardness on the edge surface and core surface is almost the same and the micro-structure of the

Table 1
Chemical composition of the shaft material.

Chemical composition C Si Mn P S Cr Mo

Specied value 0.150.2 0.4 0.50.9 b0.025 0.01 1.51.8 0.250.35


Measure value 0.22 0.29 0.73 0.018 0.004 1.6 0.29

Chemical composition Ni Al Cu Ca Ti V Sn

Specied value 1.41.7 0.020.05 0.25 0.0015 0.005 0.05 0.03%


Measure value 1.58 0.04 0.05 b0.001 0.0015 0.007 0.003

Fig. 4. The numbered cross section shaft.


W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205 195

Table 2
Hardness values on the three outer surfaces of isometric polygonal shaft (HRC).

Number Hardness values Average hardness

1 43.5 43.5 46 44.5 43.5 42.5 43 44 45 43.94


2 46 44.5 45 42.5 44 43.5 45 46 46 44.72
3 44 43.5 44 45 42 44.5 44 45.5 46 44.28

Table 3
Hardness values on the core of the isometric polygonal shaft (HRC).

Number Hardness values Average hardness

1 44.5 44.5 42.5 43.5 39.5 39.5 45 46.5 43.5 43.22


2 45 46.5 44 44.5 43.5 45 46 44.3 44 44.76
3 46 46 46 46 46 44.3 46.5 45.5 45 45.70

shaft can meet the requirements. The shaft has good hardenability according to the metallographic test, so the heat treatment quality
has reached the technical requirements.

2.4. Macro-observation

Most of the fracture surface is covered by covering layer formed when the shaft fractured, and can only see two fatigue sources
(as shown in Fig. 7).

Fig. 5. Optical micro-structure of the outer surface.

Fig. 6. Optical micro-structure of the core surface.


196 W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205

Fig. 7. Fracture surface with covering layer.

The real fracture surface of the shaft is shown when the covering layer was removed by mechanical method. Obviously, there are
four fatigue sources and the center of the fracture surface is static fracture region which is shown in Fig. 8.
If the fracture surface is divided into three parts (the red line in Fig. 9), the fatigue sources 1, 2 and 4 are closed to the position
which is on the left of the reference line (the red line in Fig. 9) at the angle of 25. Fatigue source 3 at a random position without
rules, and there are obvious rust marks, so it deserves further study to decide whether the material or processing is defective.
The fatigue sources 1, 2 and 4 are located at the loading places where the indentations (shown in Fig. 10) have been appeared.

Fig. 8. Fracture surface without covering layer.

Fig. 9. Fatigue sources and reference line. (For interpretation of the references to color in this gure, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)
W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205 197

Fig. 10. Indentation on the shaft.

According to the macro-observation, the fracture of the isometric polygonal shaft belongs to fatigue fracture and is multi-source
fatigue. Fatigue sources have occurred on the surface of the shaft where the indentations appeared.

2.5. Microscopic observation

There are four fatigue sources on the fracture surface (labeled A, B, C and D in Fig. 11(a)) and the fatigue sources B, C and D have the
similar properties, so only the fatigue sources A and B were carried out using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM).
The observation points numbered 117 are shown in Fig. 11(b). However, only display of those critical observation points
numbered 1, 3, 4, 6, 10, 14 and 17 are shown in Figs. 12, 13 and 14.
Point 1 and 3 are on the fatigue source region. The fracture surface is smooth and it is a typical fatigue fracture. Point 4 is located at
the intersection area of the fatigue resource region and the fatigue expansion region and a lot of rust is there. Point 6 is at the fast prop-
agation region and the secondary crack appeared.
Beach marks are obviously observed in the picture of the point 10. The fracture surface is smooth and the fatigue crack propagation
direction is clear. The picture of point 14 shows a typical fatigue fracture.
According to the above analysis, a preliminary conclusion can be drawn that the property of isometric polygonal shaft is fatigue
fracture, and belongs to multi-source fatigue. Fatigue sources have occurred on the surface of the shaft where high stress concentra-
tion caused by the edge effect of the shaft and the hub hole.

Fig. 11. The sampling position and observation points.


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2.6. Theoretical calculation

2.6.1. Torsional strength calculation


In the ideal situation of no manufacturing error and no installation error, the shaft is only under the effect of torque. The following
calculations use the calculation method and formula of DIN37211-2: 2009. The torsional strength of shaft can be written as given in
Eq. (1).

T
T T : 1
WP

Here, T is torsional shear stress (MPa), T is torque of the shaft (N m) which can be calculated in Eq. (2), WP is section modulus in
torsion (mm3) which is given in Eq. (3), and [T] is allowable torsional shear stress(=52 MPa, in this research).

P
T 9549 N  m 2
n

Here, P is the power that the shaft transfer, and n is revolving speed of shaft (rpm) and which can be shown in Table 4.

4
d1 4e1 A
WP  3
d1 8e1 20Ip d1

Fig. 12. Microstructure of fatigue source A.


W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205 199

Fig. 13. Microstructure of fatigue source B.

Fig. 14. Microstructure of intersection area.

Here, d1 is mean diameter of the isometric polygonal shaft, e1 is the offset of the isometric polygonal shown in Table 4, Ip is polar
moment of inertia (mm4) which is given in Eq. (4), and A is the cross sectional area (mm2) of the shaft which is given in Eq. (5).

4 2 2
d1 3e1 d1
IP 4
32 4

According to the parameter values which are shown in Table 4, the torsional shear stress has been obtained

T 41:1 MPa:

Result of torsional strength calculation of the shaft suggests that torsional strength of this isometric polygonal shaft can meet the
requirement of actual working conditions.

Table 4
Parameter values.

Parameters P n d1 e1 l

Values 1200 kW 1490 rpm 105.5 mm 4.75 mm 225 mm


200 W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205

Fig. 15. The load conditions of shaft.

2.6.2. Unit contact stress calculation


Under the hypothesis that the surface of the shaft is under uniform pressure, the force condition of the shaft is shown in Fig. 15(a)
and (b). The unit contact stress can calculate as follows:

T N  mm
p ! 19:68 MPa : 5
3 d2
l d1 e1 1
4 20

Here, p is unit contact stress (MPa), and l is effective working length of the shaft and the value can be obtained in Table 4.
According to the result, the unit contact stress is not big and the contact stress can meet the safety design requirement.

2.7. The possibility of internal defects on shaft fracture

There are obvious rust marks on fatigue source 3 (in Fig. 8), thus the shaft fracture may be caused by the internal defects. To
determine the possibility of internal defects leading to fracture, electron microscopic analysis and inclusion testing were carried
out. The inclusions can be seen in Fig. 16.
The inclusions in materials can be tested with the method of SEM energy spectrum analysis and the inclusion composition is
shown in Fig. 17.
From above analysis, there are different inclusions in the material, but it is not serious according to the shape and quantity of the
inclusions. More importantly, there are no internal defects (slag inclusions, puckering etc.) in the fatigue source 3, thus a conclusion
can be drawn that the inclusions and internal defects are not the main causes of shaft fracture.

2.8. The inuence of eccentricity on the shaft strength

The above calculations are based on the ideal situation of no manufacturing error and no installation error. There is no contact be-
tween the shaft and the hub due to the existence of the clearance which is shown in Fig. 18. However, the manufacturing error and
installation error between the shaft and the hub are always present in actual situation which is shown in Fig. 19. The parameter e0
(in Fig. 19) is the eccentricity between the shaft and hub which depends on the machining precision and the installation accuracy.

Fig. 16. Optical micro-structure of rust region.


W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205 201
Fig. 17. Inclusions chemical composition.
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Fig. 18. Ideal shaft coupling.

The misalignment between the center of the circle static fracture region and the axis of the shaft which is shown in Fig. 20 proves
the existence of the eccentricity.
Because the shaft has an automatic centering function, so the hub hole and shaft can be in a state of completely concentric
(in Fig. 21) under the action of torque which is mainly due to the bending deformation of the shaft. Obviously, a large quantity of ec-
centricity will generate high bending deformation (bending stress) which will affect the strength of the shaft seriously.
Under the condition of no eccentricity, the shaft is only under the effect of torque and there is only shear stress on the fracture sur-
face. But under the condition of eccentricity present, the shaft is under the effect of both torque and bending moment, so there are
both shear stress and bending stress on the fracture surface.
According to the above analysis, a large quantity of eccentricity will generate high bending deformation (bending stress) which
will affect the strength of the shaft seriously. The fracture of the shaft may be caused by the large amount of eccentricity.

2.9. Finite element analysis

In this chapter, stress analysis is performed with ANSYS software. According to part drawing, three-dimensional solid model was
established. This model was composed of an isometric polygonal shaft, and a hub. The nite element model of this model was shown
in Fig. 22 and the additional force only exists when there is eccentricity between the shaft and the hub. Quadratic tetrahedral elements
were used in the shaft and hexahedral elements were used in the hub.

Fig. 19. Shaft coupling in operation.


W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205 203

Fig. 20. The fracture surface.

When there is no eccentricity between the shaft and the hub, the stress status can be seen in Fig. 23. It is obvious that the dangerous
section is at the end of contact region between the shaft and hub.
When there is eccentricity between the shaft and the hub, the hub hole and shaft can be in a state of completely concentric because
of the automatic centering function and this is mainly due to the bending deformation of the shaft. The bending deformation can be
replaced by an equivalent additional force. The additional forces were applied in three different directions and the stress status is
shown in Figs. 24, 25 and 26.
According to the material and the hardness, the tensile strength has been obtained which is b =1180 MPa. The safety factor n = 2,
and then the allowable stress [] can be got which is given in Eq. (6).

b 1180
 590 MPa 6
n 2

The value of the additional force has been got which is 150 kN through the nite element calculation. When the additional force is
150 kN, the stress at the end of the shaft and hub hole's contact region is greater than the allowable stress which may cause the frac-
ture of the shaft.
According to the above analysis, the dangerous section is at the end of contact region between the shaft and hub. Because of the
existence of the eccentricity between the shaft and the hub, the additional force is generated and it is harmful to the strength of
the shaft. When the shaft is under the condition of both torque and bending moment, the misalignment on the loads occurs and it
is easy to cause the fracture of the shaft.

Fig. 21. Automatic centering function of the shaft and hub.


204 W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205

Fig. 22. Boundary conditions applied to the FEA model.

Fig. 23. Finite element analysis without eccentricity (no additional force).

Fig. 24. Finite element analysis with eccentricity (additional force in X direction).

Fig. 25. Finite element analysis with eccentricity (additional force in Y direction).
W. Li, Q. Yan / Engineering Failure Analysis 58 (2015) 192205 205

Fig. 26. Finite element analysis with eccentricity (additional force in XY 45 direction).

3. Conclusions

(1) The fracture failure of the isometric polygonal shaft is clearly by fatigue, and belongs to multi-source fatigue. Fatigue sources
have occurred on the surface of the shaft and the fracture of the shaft is caused by both bending and torsion.
(2) There are four obvious fatigue sources on the fracture surface, and three of them are located in the three indentations. Accord-
ing to the above analysis, the conclusion can be drawn that the indentations have a great inuence on the fatigue fracture, and
can contribute to the found eccentricity. The three fatigue sources are closed to the position which is on the left of the reference
line (the red line in Fig. 9) at the angle of 25. Fatigue sources have occurred on the surface of the shaft where high stress con-
centration caused by the edge effect of the shaft and the hub and also the wear indentation, as is seen in Fig. 10.
(3) The fracture surface shows that the eccentricity exists and it depends on the machining precision and the assembly accuracy
but also the maintenance with grease into the coupling shafts. The eccentricity of the shaft and hub hole can lead to large bend-
ing deformation which can generate high stress concentration. The large eccentricity can be the root cause of the fracture.
(4) Through FEA, the value of additional force has been got which is 150 kN. When the additional force is 150 kN, the stress at the
end of the shaft and hub hole's contact region is greater than the allowable stress which may cause the fracture of the shaft.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported nancially by the National Natural Science Foundation of China through Grant 51275035.

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