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 determine how and why a material or product failed. 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 failure analysts then apply a wide variety of analytical methods and tools to inspect the failed part.

Working to prevent future failure

While identifying the root cause 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. The combination of our materials expertise and our knowledge on what impact the service environment can have on a material or product enables rapid delivery of comprehensive results to identify resolutions and avoid future in-service failures.

Our Engaged Experts are 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, Oil & Gas, Transportation, Construction, Medical Device and Consumer Products.

For more information about our failure analysis capabilities or to request a quote, contact us today. 

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

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 consulting 

Element’s global network of world-renowned corrosion experts and consultants provide 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.

Expert witness services 

Element offers a 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 services 

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.

Chemical analysis 

Element's network of 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.

Residue analysis

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 options

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' 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.

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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 pipes, forgings, castings and various other metallic components, which are often subjected to harsh working environments under high-stress applications.
From corrosion and fatigue to unsatisfactory heat treatment and hydrogen embrittlement, our metals experts have the tools and expertise necessary to identify and diagnose failures in a timely manner.

Typical Metallic Materials Analyzed: 

  • Aluminum and aluminum alloys
  • Cast Iron
  • Chrome 
  • Cobalt and cobalt alloys
  • Copper  and copper alloys
  • Magnesium and magnesium alloys
  • Molybdenum 
  • Nickel and nickel alloys
  • Powder metal 
  • Steels
  • Titanium and titanium alloys
  • 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

Our 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 essential 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 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 difficulties 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 responsive and resourceful failure analysis services.

Common Oil & Gas Components Analyzed:

  • Ball Bearings
  • Bushings
  • Cables 
  • Drilling Rig Components
  • Fasteners
  • Fittings
  • Flanges
  • Gears
  • Hoses
  • Instruments
  • Motors
  • Pipes
  • Pumps
Transportation Failure Analysis

From working with OEMs and their suppliers from late R&D, through design validation and on to production validation, Element's mission is to provide you with 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

Our team of over 6,700 Engaged Experts in North America, Europe, The Middle East, Australia, Asia and Africa are ready to help you.