An analysis model has been developed to model the nonlinear strain rate dependent deformation of rolling bearing steel stressed in the elastic-plastic domain. The model is developed in the frame of the incremental theory of plasticity by using the von Mises yield criterion and Prandtl-Reuss equations. By considering the isotropic and non-linear kinematic hardening laws of Lemaitre-Caboche, the model accounts for the cyclic hardening phenomena. To attain the final load of each loading cycle, the two bodies are brought into contact incrementally. For each new load increment new increments for the components of stress and strain tensors, but also increments of residual stresses, are computed for each point of the 3D mesh. Both, the new contact geometry and residual stresses distributions, are further considered as initial values for the next loading cycle, the incremental technique being reiterated. The cyclic evaluation process of both, plastic strains and residual stresses is performed until the material shakedowns. The experimental part of the paper regards to the rolling contact fatigue tests carried out on two groups of line contact test specimens and on two groups of deep groove ball bearings. In both cases, the experimental data reveal more than two times greater fatigue life for the group with induced residual stresses versus the life of the reference group. The von Mises equivalent stress is considered in Ioannides-Harris rolling contact fatigue model to obtain theoretical lives. The theoretical analysis revealed greater fatigue lives for the test specimens and for the ball bearings groups with induced residual stresses than the fatigue lives of the corresponding reference groups.

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