Element’s Engaged Experts conduct failure analyses of a wide range of non-metallic materials, including rubber, adhesives and sealants, paints/coatings and composites failure analysis.

Non-Metallic Failure Analysis

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. 


How does non-metallic and metallic materials testing differ?

Unlike metals, a non-metallic material 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. Non-metallic materials are evaluated for their structural properties, and any defects within that structure and the root cause of failure. 


Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymers (CFRP)

Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymers (GFRP)



Polymer Matrix Composites (PMCs) 

Polymers & Plastics 

PolypropylenePolytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Rubbers & Elastomers

Silicon Carbide



The failures associated with these materials are often the result of a wide variety of mechanisms and factors, such as:

  • Manufacturing defects/contamination
  • Exposure to chemicals (environmental stress cracking, chemical contact)
  • Contamination
  • Adverse environmental conditions in service (temperature, humidity, UV exposure)
  • Molecular degradation (molding process, service conditions)
  • Molding defects (inclusions, voids, knit lines)
  • Stress concentration (design features, defects)
  • Rapid deformation (impact, snap fit assemblies)
  • Extended time under stress / creep
  • Fatigue loading
  • Finding the root cause of the 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. Element experts understand this and provide real-life solutions to challenges related to material failure. 

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


Our team of over 9,000 Engaged Experts in North America, Europe, The Middle East, Australia, Asia and Africa are ready to help you.