The austenitic stainless steels have excellent mechanical and chemical characteristics and these materials are widely used for the main structural components in the nuclear power plants. A part of structural components using these materials is considered to have strain-history by machining, welding and etc in the process of manufacturing and these parts would be hardened because these materials have a remarkable work-hardening property. On the other hand, conventional studies for the fatigue strength used to be investigated by the results of fatigue tests applying normal specimens without the effect of hardening by pre-strain. This paper describes the effect of large pre-strain on very high cycle fatigue strength of the materials in consideration for the evaluation of strength of actual structures in the nuclear power plants. In order to achieve this purpose, the fatigue tests were carried out with strain hardened specimens. The material served in this study was type SUS316NG. Up to ±20% pre-strain was introduced to the round bar shaped materials by tension and compression load test, and the materials were mechanically machined to the hourglass shaped smooth specimens. On the other hand, the pre-strain of some specimens were introduced after machining so as to study the influence of roughness of the surface of the specimens for the fatigue property. Fatigue tests were conducted by ultrasonic and rotating-bending fatigue test machines and conditions were decided by preliminary examinations to control temperature elevation of the specimen during the fatigue test. The S-N curves obtained from fatigue tests show that increase in magnitude of the pre-strain cause increase in the fatigue strength of the material and this relationship is independent of type of the pre-strains of tension and compression. Though all specimens were fractured by the surface initiated fatigue crack, only one specimen was fractured by the internal crack and so-called “fish-eye” was observed on the fracture surface. However, the internal fracture of the SUS316NG does not cause sudden drop of the fatigue strength. Also, the Vickers hardness tests were carried out to discuss the relationship between fatigue strength and hardness of the pre-strained materials. It is found that the increase in fatigue limit of the pre-strained materials strongly depend on the hardness derived from the indentation size equals to the scale of stage I fatigue crack.

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