The objective of this research is to conduct a finite element analysis to better understand the effects of induction hardening on rolling contact fatigue (RCF). The finite element analysis was developed in three-dimensional to estimate the maximal loading and the positions of the crack nucleation sites in the case of cylinder contact rolling. Rolling contact with or without surface compressive residual stress (RS) were studied and compared. The RS profile was chosen to simulate the effects of an induction hardening treatment on a 48 HRC tempered AISI4340 steel component. As this hardening process not only generates a RS gradient in the treated component but also a hardness gradient (called over-tempered region), both types of gradients were introduced in the present model. RSs in compression were generated in the hard case (about 60 HRC); tension values were introduced in the over-tempered region, where hardness as low as 38 HRC were set. In order to estimate the maximal allowable loadings in the rotating cylinders to target a life of 106 cycles, a multiaxial Dang Van criterion and a shear stress fatigue limit were used in the positive and negative hydrostatic conditions, respectively. With the proposed approach, the induction hardened component was found to have a maximal allowable loading significantly higher than that obtained with a nontreated one, and it was observed that the residual tensile stress peak found in the over-tempered region could become a limiting factor for fatigue rolling contact life.

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