Failure analysis is a critical aspect of product development and system improvement. Element’s team of scientists and engineers have decades of hands-on experience performing root cause analysis for failures across many sectors, including aerospace, oil & gas, transportation, medical device, construction, consumer products, and more.

Failure analysis is a multi-faceted, holistic approach to product and material investigations. The failure analysis process begins with the determination of how and why the sample failed. This initial stage involves an in-depth discovery phase in which one of Element’s expert failure analysts collects information on the circumstances surrounding the failure and any relevant background information, including environmental factors, type of application, service life, pertinent design information and, ultimately, method of the failure. Element's failure analysts then apply analytical tools to inspect the failed part, often comparing it to other, similar parts that are still intact.

While identifying root cause is usually the primary goal in failure analysis, the real value of a failure analysis is to identify what can be done to prevent future occurrences. Based on findings from this process, Element experts provide recommendations and team with the customer to find solutions to problems for a diverse range of products and materials. It is the combination of our expertise in materials selection and application, manufacturing processes, fracture mechanics and the impact the actual service environment can have on a material or product that enables Element to rapidly deliver comprehensive recommendations to avoid service failures and resolutions to future manufacturing challenges. 

Failure Analysis

Common Failure Modes Analyzed

  • Corrosion
  • Creep
  • Design Defects
  • Environmental (Temperature & Humidity) Exposure
  • Errant Heat Treatment
  • Fatigue
  • Fracture
  • Hydrogen Embrittlement
  • Mechanical Overload
  • Stress Corrosion Cracking
  • Wear
Failure Analysis

Common Failure Analysis Techniques

  • Accelerated Aging
  • Corrosion Testing
  • Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)
  • Fatigue Testing
  • Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)
  • Fractography
  • Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Impact Testing
  • Investigative Chemistry
  • Macroscopic Evaluation
  • Material Compatibility Testing
  • Mechanical Properties Testing
  • Microscopic Evaluation
  • Residue/Contaminant Analysis
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (SEM-EDS)
  • Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA)
  • Thermomechanical Analysis (TMA)
  • X-Ray Powder Diffraction (XRD)
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Failure Analysis

Materials We Analyze

Element failure analysis experts are well-versed in determining root cause of failure for a wide range of materials, including metals and alloys, plastics and polymers, advanced composites, rubber, adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings.

Metals Failure Analysis
Element’s metal testing laboratories provide comprehensive failure analysis services for forgings, castings, and various other metallic components, which are often subjected to harsh working environments under high stress applications.
From corrosion and fatigue to errant heat treatment and hydrogen embrittlement, our metals experts have the tools and expertise necessary to identify and diagnose field failures in a timely manner.
Typical Metallic Materials Tested: 
  •  Aluminum
  • Cast Iron
  • Chrome
  • Cobalt
  • Copper
  • Inconel
  • Magnesium
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel
  • Powder metal
  • Steel
  • Titanium
  • Welds
Non-Metals Failure Analysis
Due to the countless material formulations and combinations, Element's polymer and nonmetal failure analysis laboratories often employ intensive material identification programs to assist in determining the origin of failure. 
Unlike metals, a polymer’s identification typically cannot be identified from any single technique. Often, chemical analyses are combined with thermal properties testing to form a clear picture of the material’s identity and origin.
Common Non-Metallic Materials Analyzed: 
  • Acrylics
  • Carbon Fiber and Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP)
  • Ceramic Matrix Composites (CMCs)
  • Fiberglass
  • Polybutylene
  • Polyethylene
  • Polymer Matrix Composites (PMCs)
  • Polymers & Plastics
  • Polypropylene
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Rubbers & Elastomers
  • Silicon Carbide
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Failure Analysis

Industries We Serve

Element’s highly-trained staff of material experts have extensive knowledge and expertise across a wide range of industries, from aerospace and transportation to consumer products and construction.

Aerospace Failure Analysis

Element’s aerospace testing laboratories provide indispensable failure analysis services to Aerospace primes and their supply chain partners. As the largest independent testing company in the global Aerospace sector, we're in the best position to provide you with expert failure analysis services and timely solutions to your toughest material or component challenges. 

Common Aerospace Components Analyzed: 

  • Airfoils
  • Ball Bearings
  • Bushings
  • Components and Subcomponents
  • Fan Blades
  • Fasteners
  • Fittings
  • Gears
  • Instruments
  • Turbines
Oil & Gas Failure Analysis

Reservoir souring, extreme pressures and temperatures, fatigue regimes, and inaccessibility for maintenance count among the myriad of technical challenges faced by the Oil & Gas industry. Tight oil, ultra-deep water, oil tar sands, arctic conditions and conventional extraction are just some of the challenges being met by Element’s ever-more responsive and inventive failure analysis services.

Common Oil & Gas Components Analyzed:

  • Ball Bearings
  • Bushings
  • Downhole/Downstream Components
  • Drilling Rig Components
  • Fasteners
  • Fittings
  • Flanges
  • Gears
  • Hoses
  • Instruments
  • Lines
  • Motors
  • Pipeline
  • Pumps
Transportation Failure Analysis

Working with OEMs and their suppliers from late R&D, through design validation and on to production validation, Element’s main mission is to provide you certainty. So whether you are designing systems and components for light-, medium- or heavy-duty vehicles, our engaged industry experts will work together with you to solve your toughest material and product challenges. 

  • Common Transportation Components Analyzed:
  • Chassis & Suspension
  • Electronics & Battery
  • Fuel Components
  • HVAC, Fluid, and Cooling Systems
  • Interiors & Exteriors
  • Lighting & Glass
  • Plant equipment components, including shafts, press housings, springs, pulleys, chains, cables, bearings, hooks, etc.
  • Powertrain
  • Safety Systems
Industrial Failure Analysis

Industrial manufacturing processes create harsh working environments for materials and components. In addition, failures on the manufacturing line create catastrophic delays in production. Element’s failure analysis experts have the resources and knowledge to provide timely on-site or in-lab investigations for a myriad of industrial manufacturing failures.

Common Industrial Components Analyzed:

  • Ball Bearings
  • Bushings
  • Tools and Dies
  • Electronic components and sensors
  • Fasteners
  • Fittings
  • Pipes, Fittings and Flanges
  • Gears
  • Hoses
  • Tanks and Pressure Vessels
  • Instruments
  • Lines
  • Plant equipment components, including shafts, press housings, springs, pulleys, chains, cables, bearings, hooks, etc.
  • Presses
  • Pumps and Impellors

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