I am wondering if someone can explain what Maximum Average Forward Rectified Current means for a diode. I see that this is marked as 1 Amp in the datasheet for the 1N4001. I have not been able to find a clear explanation of what this means online.
This came up when I was doing stress testing on a circuit I am designing. I was driving the circuit under it's maximum conditions for long periods of time. In these tests 1.7 Amps of current passed through a 1N4001 diode for over 10 minutes. The diode did not get hot or show any signs of distress. Someone later pointed out the 1 Amp in the datasheet, but clearly this doesn't mean the maximum current that can pass through the device, or there would have been some sort of negative effect.
Can anyone explain what this attribute means for a diode, and why the circuit operated without any negative effects at the higher current?