Fatigue Behaviour of Connectors used in Cable Harnessing through Cavity Formation Related Microstructural Degradation: A Failure Investigation Perspective
Two separately failed electrical connector pieces during a vibration test were received for failure analysis. Chemical composition, hardness values and microstructures of the each of the connector material indicate that the material of construction is a die cast aluminium-silicon type of alloy, closely matching with the standard ANSI/AA B380 alloy. Intergranular and faceted fracture features are observed and failure mechanism is found to be fatigue dominated. The connectors failed by impact fatigue arising out of the loosening of the connector assembly. This has happened by cavity formation and/or growth related microstructural degradation processes. Initial casting pores as well as microstructural degradations such as interconnected pores have developed in service and their successive growth, decohesion and interconnection of each of primary Si particles and Al-Fe-Mn precipitates (along precipitate-matrix interface) have led the initiation of the crack under fatigue loading. Brittle as-cast microstructure (as typified by the precipitate-matrix interfacial cracking), existing vibratory loading and absence of any rise in temperature in the system have assisted the initial cavity (crack) formation and/or growth. Moreover, initial fitment related looseness is an additional factor in initiating and propagating this damaging mechanism.
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