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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N033930/1
Title: Miniature Ultrasonic Fatigue Analysis of Local Modified Regions near Welds and Surfaces in Ti alloys
Principal Investigator: Wilkinson, Professor AJ
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr J Gong
Project Partners:
Rolls-Royce Plc Timet UK Ltd
Department: Materials
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2016 Ends: 31 May 2019 Value (£): 486,814
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials testing & eng.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Aerospace, Defence and Marine
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
13 Apr 2016 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 13 April 2016 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Fatigue is a pervasive failure mode that affects many industrial sectors including the high value aerospace, nuclear and automotive sectors. It remains a source of in-service failure on the one hand and inefficient over-engineered conservative design on the other and so generates considerable risks and cost (capital and operating) to industry. In the lower stress regimes where high or very high cycles to failure occur there are several factors that complicate fundamental understanding of fatigue failure and how to manage it effectively in engineering practice:

(i) testing methodologies generally only test to ~1 million cycles while safety critical components may see much longer service periods of a hundred to a thousand times longer in the aerospace and nuclear sector forcing extrapolation into unknown and untested regimes

(ii) there is considerably more scatter in fatigue lives in (very) high cycle fatigue compared to low cycle fatigue which is linked to a greater influence of microstructure

(iii) the crack initiation process takes up a much larger fraction of the total fatigue life but as no crack is present it is difficult to know where in the material microstructure to make observations that will capture local processes that will eventually lead to crack nucleation

(iv) residual stresses from processing and machining make a more significant contribution to the total stress state when the external loading is smaller.

This research programme will deliver a step change in high cycle fatigue testing by combining ultrasonic technology with small scale miniature test-piece designs.

The tests will be conducted at 20 kHz at which a million cycles takes just less than a minute and a billion cycles takes only 1 day. The sample dimension will be in two regimes. Firstly, a micro-regime with Focused Ion Beam (FIB) cut sample widths only a fraction to a few micrometres across allowing testing of individual selected features of a microstructure (grain, grain boundary, inclusion...). Secondly, a meso-regime with samples a few tens to a few hundreds of micrometres wide cut using laser micro-machining and allowing small patches of microstructure to be tested. The meso-samples are sufficiently small that frequent intermittent microscopic characterisation methods can be used to the local evolution of local deformation, stress, and dislocation content in regions where crack initiation is guaranteed to occur eventually.

Greater understanding of processes leading to crack initiation and how local variation in microstructure control fatigue crack initiation lifetimes are the key scientific and technological outcomes sought.

This step change advance will be exploited in the first instance to characterize effects of process conditions on the fatigue crack initiation response of (i) linear friction welds & (ii) peened surfaces in Ti-6Al-4V.
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