Material Fatigue Testing IS IT IMPORTANT? Absolutely!
An understanding of fatigue effects is CRITICAL to the design of devices and structures that may be subjected to cyclic loading during their lifetime.
Historically, the method of dealing with fatigue has been to over design the part to lower the stress in the component, rather than attempt to test the material and determine the actual fatigue characteristics. While this may have been acceptable in the past, the emphasis today is on reducing weight, minimizing material usage, utilizing new materials (sometimes lacking physical characteristic data), and preventing product liability lawsuits, which all require a more scientific approach.
Fatigue effects often cause failures which remain undetected until a catastrophic fracture occurs, frequently at a very inopportune time and without warning. At best, these failures drive up warranty costs and cause considerable customer dissatisfaction. The worst case is the potential for devastating financial losses and even endangering lives. Therefore, the prediction of fatigue behavior can no longer be considered optional
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