An experimental program to determine the effect of cyclic radial rolling contact load on the microstructure of AISI 52100 steel quenched and tempered to 50 Rockwell C hardness is reported. The magnitude of the load was restricted to result in stress conditions that did not exceed the strain energy of distortion theory limit of elastic behavior. Cycling up to 109 cycles produced familiar “white etching” microstructural alterations around stress concentrators such as inclusions, but no microstructural effect related to the mathematical stress field was detected. Research to improve the elastic limit in high hardness-wear resistant steel appears to be needed.

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