Modern fatigue analysis is providing analytical solutions to problems that could previously be addressed only by methods that were highly empirical and often inaccurate. We can now focus on five crucial steps to successful fatigue analysis. Working from elastic finite element models, the five steps are: 1) the calculation of elastic-plastic stresses and strains for complex loading and biaxial stress states; 2) modification of the endurance limit to allow for the interaction between small and larger cycles; 3) the calculation of the life to crack initiation; 4) critical plane searching to determine the orientation of a potential crack; 5) and an assessment of whether the crack will propagate to failure. The paper describes these steps and the underlying theories, and gives industrial examples of their application to real components.

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