Systematizing a ten-year development of engineering models for the prediction of rolling contact fatigue life distributions, a unified model is presented. Based on a crack growth rate relationship with local plastic strain and ductility, and on defect populations in the contact material and at the contact surfaces, the model predicts life of a defect, then generalizes to rolling body life. Subsurface and surface failure modes are considered; the effects of material matrix, defect severity, stress condition, surface traction, and asperity interactions are encompassed. The model includes crack initiation and propagation terms and allows for a finite minimum life. The model specializes to Lundberg-Palmgren theory.

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