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 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 and pertinent design information. Element's failure analysts then apply a wide variety of analytical methods and tools to inspect the failed part.

While identifying the root cause of any failure is usually the primary goal, the real value of the procedure is to identify what can be done to prevent future occurrences. Based on findings from this process, Element experts provide recommendations and work closely with the customer to find solutions to problems for a diverse range of products and materials. It is the combination of our materials expertise together with our knowledge on what impact the service environment can have on a material or product, that enables Element to rapidly deliver comprehensive recommendations to identify avoid resolutions and future in-service failures.

Our teams of expert metallurgists, chemists, and materials scientists are internationally recognized as some of the most experienced in their field. They have decades of hands-on experience in performing root cause analysis for failures across many sectors, including Aerospace, Oil & Gas, Transportation, Construction, Medical Device and Consumer Products.

Working with customers around the world, 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.

Our failure analysis capabilities

Our failure analysis capabilities include metallurgical and chemical analysis for various grades of metals, polymers and composite materials.

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.

Investigative chemistry

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 is 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.

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 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

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