The fatigue life of aerospace components depends greatly on the mechanical properties of the finished surface layer. However, no independent strength test of this layer has been reported because of the lack of suitable samples. Therefore, a direct method of assessing the surface tensile strength using film samples with thicknesses of approximately 40 μm is proposed in this paper. The immediate objective of this research is to demonstrate the fundamentals of surface strength testing and prove the feasibility of preparing films by tracking the evolution of the surface integrity. The test results show that layer‐by‐layer grinding and polishing is a feasible method for preparing film samples with sufficient area, controllable thickness, and well‐maintained surface integrity. During the preparation of the film samples, the roughness and micro‐hardness of the test side (the side kept unprepared for testing) are protected, and those of the processed side (the side that is ground and polished) are controlled. The residual stress on both sides is released to zero. The film specimens exhibit regular fracture behaviour in the tensile tests, and their stress–strain curves can be explained as weighted averages of the stress–strain functions of multiple layers.
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