The Impact of Steel Microstructure and Heat Treatment on the Formation of White Etching Cracks
White etching crack (WECs) associated macro-pitting is a dominant mode of damage within wind turbine gearbox bearings. This damage is characterized by broadly branching crack networks surrounded by local regions of microstructural alterations. The definitive cause of WECs in the field is unknown; therefore, the implementation of effective mitigation techniques has proven difficult. The current work utilized an accelerated benchtop testing technique in order to quantify differences in performance between through-hardened AISI 52100 steel and carburized AISI 3310 steel. It was found that the carburized AISI 3310 steel demonstrated a more than twofold increase in the time elapsed until WEC macro-pitting damage occurred compared to the through-hardened AISI 52100 steel samples.