Failure analysis is a critical aspect of product development and system improvement which not only helps us learn from the past, but helps prevent future failures.
Failure analysis is a multi-faceted, holistic approach to determining how and why a material or product failed.
Failure analysis investigation
The initial stage of any investigation involves an in-depth discovery phase of the circumstances surrounding the failure and any relevant background information, including environmental factors, type of application, service life, and pertinent design information. Element's analysts apply a wide variety of analytical methods and tools to inspect the failed part.
Importance of failure analysis
While the root cause analysis and associated responsibility of any failure are the primary goals, the added value is provided in preventing future occurrences.
Based on findings from the failure analysis process, Element experts provide recommendations and work closely with the customer to find solutions to problems for a diverse range of products and materials. We have the combination of our materials expertise and knowledge of what impact the service environment can have on a material or a product. This enables rapid delivery of comprehensive results to identify resolutions and avoid future in-service failures.
Read our article to find out three reasons to perform failure analysis.
The Element advantage
Our global network of experts is recognized as some of the most trusted in their field by providing reliable failure analysis for a variety of clients, including manufacturers, commercial intermediaries, consumers, lawyers, and insurance companies. They have decades of hands-on experience in performing failure analysis across many sectors, including Aerospace, Energy, Transportation, Construction, Medical Device, and Consumer Products.
For more information about our failure analysis services or to request a quote, contact us today.
Failure analysis of metals
Also referred to as metallurgical failure analysis, this is the process used to determine what caused the metal component to fail and helps in preventing similar failures from occurring in the future. Our experts use a wide range of methods to determine the root cause.
Typical metallic materials analyzed:
- Aluminum and aluminum alloys
- Cast Iron
- Cobalt and cobalt alloys
- Copper and copper alloys
- Magnesium and magnesium alloys
- Nickel and nickel alloys
- Powder metal
- Titanium and titanium alloys
Material failure analysis of non-metals
Non-metallic material failure analysis offers a unique challenge because while the primary failure analysis sequence remains the same, the fractographic interpretation and analytical testing are very different from that used on metallic materials.
Due to the many material formulations and combinations, Element's non-metallic material failure analysis laboratories often employ intensive material identification programs to assist in determining the origin of failure and degradation of non-metals.
Common non-metallic materials analyzed:
- Carbon Fiber and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP)
- Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs)
- Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymers (GFRP)
- Polymer Matrix Composites (PMCs)
- Polymers & Plastics
- Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Rubbers & Elastomers
- Silicon Carbide
Our Failure Analysis Capabilities
Our teams provide expert failure analysis and reporting through a range of technical services, including stress analysis and material characterization, trace evidence analysis and forensic engineering.
We offer a full range of failure analysis services in the following areas:
Corrosion failure analysis
Element’s global network of world-renowned corrosion experts and consultants provides support for corrosion-related failures, including failure analysis, consulting, and legal case support. We specialize in determining root cause failure, residue identification, and corrosion prevention consultancy.
Failure analysis expert witness services
Element offers wide-ranging expert witness services. Our experts are often called upon to deliver critical testimony or expertise in legal or insurance cases surrounding materials, product or component failures, compliance cases, patent infringements, or detecting evidence of abuse or defects.
Fractography and failure analysis
Should a product or material fail, Element’s scientists can examine the fracture surface to determine the cause of the failure. Our experts utilize state-of-the-art surface analysis methods and systems, such as Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to identify the cause of failure.
Element's chemistry labs are available to help you understand the chemical composition of a material, or the chemical processes used during manufacture to help identify why a failure may have occurred.
Using a variety of techniques, including SEM and EDAX analysis, Element can help identify residual deposits on your materials, and determine whether this is a surface stain or a product of corrosion or material failure.
Failure analysis on-site investigation
Portable chemical analysis and metallographic equipment are available to facilitate the in-situ examination of failed components where the component cannot be removed from service or is too large to transport off-site. Element has many years of experience in this type of on-site investigation, having provided failure analysis lab services in challenging environments such as offshore oil and gas installations or inside a power generation plant.
The Importance of Failure Analysis Testing
A guide to understanding how engineering failure analysis is used to prevent failures and improve your product’s design, materials, fabrication techniques, and inspection methods.LEARN MORE
Three Reasons to Perform Failure Analysis
Failure analysis is a process by which a failed product is inspected to determine what caused it to fail. Methods vary in approach, but all seek to determine the root cause of the failure by looking at the characteristics and clues left behind.LEARN MORE
Find out more about our chemical analysis laboratories that offer a critical resource for both material and product manufacturers.
Expert Witness Services
Element offers expert witness services to legal and insurance firms to provide testimony with precision and expertise.
Find out how Element's corrosion testing programs can drastically reduce the risks associated with corrosion.
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
SEM analysis is a powerful analytical tool which uses a focused beam of electrons to produce intricate, high magnification images of a sample’s surface topography.
Thermal Analysis (DSC, TMA, DMA, TGA)
Thermal analysis methods measure mechanical changes under differing temperatures and loads, and can pinpoint when and at what temperature significant thermal events occur.
Accelerated Aging Shelf Life Testing
Our shelf life testing can help you determine how climatic and environmental factors like humidity, temperature, and light will affect the lifespan and integrity of your products.
Element's experts subject materials and products to dynamic impact, measuring cushioning, g-forces, and impact failure mechanisms.
Element's laboratories help customers characterize the properties and behaviors of materials and components using varying loads, speeds, and environmental conditions to create predictive patterns of future behavior.
Our fractography services can help determine the cause of failure, fatigue, or defects in metallic materials.
Using Failure Analysis to Manage In-Service Occurrences
The Element & Rolls-Royce team is now bringing expertise to multiple sectors providing access to the same high-quality testing capabilities and service that Rolls-Royce uses every day to test its engines, materials, and components.
Polymer Failure Analysis
Element experts are here to help you with your failure analysis on plastics, composites, rubbers, adhesives, sealants, paints and coatings.
Using Failure Analysis to Manage In-Service Occurrences
When an in-service occurrence takes place, it is therefore vital that the reason behind how and why a material or product has failed is established as quickly as possible, and a solution is found and put into place without delay.
Failure Analysis in the Oil and Gas Industry
Watch our on-demand webinar with Element’s globally based, international experts will help you to understand and avoid failures in the Oil and Gas industry.
Failure Analysis of Pipeline Coatings
Download a free case study that provide insight into the root causes of pipeline coatings failures.