In the video game world, ‘Metal Fatigue’ is an intense strategy game. In the music world, ‘Metal Fatigue’ is a rock/punk band hailing from the United Kingdom. In the industrial metal world, metal fatigue is a much more serious issue; it’s a term used to describe a dangerous, and difficult to detect, metal failure.
Repeated stresses can start to wear down metal. Eventually the small-sized stresses grow into larger issues, and the metal will reach its breaking point. This breaking point doesn’t happen from one event or accident, but rather over the passage of time. And once metal fatigue is detected it’s often too late to save the structure. There are three stages that metal goes through in the process of this decline:
Stress-related cracks can occur due to small damages in the way of scratches of scuffs, or because of flaws in the metal that cause micro-cracks. Cracks are almost always initiated at a stress riser point, or an area where stress is greater (think: weld joints, holes, notches, grooves, or corners).
The micro-cracks begin to grow. This stage is often the longest lasting stage of metal fatigue and can be accelerated by factors such as vibration from moving parts or moisture.
In this catastrophic phase, the metal actually fractures. The fracture could be either brittle (meaning the metal shatters or snaps apart, leaving clean edges) or ductile (meaning the metal bends, deforms, or crumples). With either type of fracture the metal failure often happens without warning.
Now that you’re good and stressed about the stresses on your metal, we’d like to offer some helpful tips for how to keep metal fatigue at a minimum:
- Take advantage of computer software analysis that will reveal high-risk areas.
- Choose metals that are more tolerant to stresses for high-risk structures. For example, steel can handle higher amounts of stress than many of its metal counterparts. Be sure to check out the impressive Arizona steel inventory at Davis Metals!
- Keep up with maintenance. Polishing and treating metal as needed can slow down deterioration.
- Get regular inspections. Professional metal analysts use a variety of methods to determine the soundness of a metal including magnetic powders, X-rays or ultrasonic inspection, fluorescent dyes, or simple visual inspection.
At Davis Metals and Salvage, we can answer all your questions about the soundness of our metals, and provide tips on proper metal conditioning and treatment to help you expand its life. Sometimes metal fatigue is inevitable, but when you shop for Phoenix industrial metals at Davis Metals and Salvage, you’re getting high-quality products that we are proud to stand behind.