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The purpose of this discussion is to assess the state of our understanding concerning the factors and mechanism(s) which determine and control the susceptibility to stress-corrosion cracking of the austenitic stainless steels. The growing importance of this problem has led to a considerable amount of research, both in this country and abroad, aimed at delineating more specifically the environmental, compositional, and structural conditions involved and at elucidating the underlying mechanism for the cracking phenomenon. As a result of this research effort, a number of mechanisms have been proposed, but all appear to contain certain deficiencies in explaining certain of the characteristic features of the stress-corrosion cracking process; that is to say, unequivocal arguments cannot be presented in behalf of any of the proposed mechanisms. Possibly more to the point is the fact that few of the currently debated mechanisms have yielded critical clues which could lead to compositional or structural modifications of commercial materials to reduce or prevent the incidence of cracking. It is encouraging to note, however, that the more recent experimental evidence is developing a basis whereby critical type of experiments can be designed to differentiate clearly the mode of damage.
Harwood, Julius J.
Head, Department of the Navy, Washington, D. C.,