The material behavior of the standard bearing steel SAE 52100 and the heat resistant bearing steels M50, M50 NiL, and Cronidur 30 as a function of the operational temperature has been investigated. The reduction in rolling contact fatigue strength due to a temperature rise was found to be significantly higher than the reduction of hardness. The mechanism of heat generation due to the bearing operation induces a temperature distribution, which makes it necessary to distinguish between the temperature ruling the subsurface fatigue processes and a higher temperature dominating the surface originated damage initiation.

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