SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 08 September 2020

Review on Crack Initiation and Premature Failures in Bearing Applications


In this paper, a review of various root causes for premature bearing macrospalling failure will be presented. Previously, premature failures were often associated with the occurrence of white etching areas, which were seen as the cause of these failures. It has been determined, however, that white etching areas are not limited only to premature failures; they occur in all types of failures during bearing life. A wide range of bearing operation conditions that can lead to rolling contact fatigue, including cracking with the development of white etching areas, has been shown. This is not limited to one specific type of failure or operating condition such as the presence of hydrogen, electrical current passage, overload, or others. The current investigations indicate that premature bearing failure mainly can be linked to two operation conditions, namely stresses higher than anticipated or material strength lower than expected (or a combination of both). A scheme to unravel the complex interactions of bearing steel properties and operating conditions that lead to premature failure will be presented. This scheme is very useful for application analysis and for finding solutions for the cases where premature failures occur. Based on the observations made on premature failures and white etching cracks, a proposal for a crack initiation mechanism at non-metallic inclusions is presented.

Author Information

Vegter, Reinder, H.
Stadler, Kenred
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Pages: 1–25
DOI: 10.1520/STP162320190054
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-7693-5
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-7692-8