Fractography is a specialized field that deals with crack growth and failure characteristics of metals, components, and engineering structures. A fractography analysis can reveal important data about material characteristics and failure mode, including the type of deformation that occurred and patterns of fracture.
Fractography is often used when corrosion or contamination of a material is suspected, or when a complete failure has occurred. Our experts will use a variety of methods to categorize the failure into one of four modes: fatigue, cleavage, dimple rupture, or decohsesive rupture.
Principal Fractography Modes
Fatigue fracture is caused by repetitive loading of a material or component. A fractography analysis can evaluate this by checking for fatigue striations and analyze crack propagation. By determining whether the crack is in Stage I (initiation), Stage II (propagation), or Stage III (total separation), a fractography analysis can determine at what point the material began to fail, and provide insight into its fatigue limit and practical use.
By contrast, cleavage is relatively low-energy fracture that lacks the characteristic cracks of a fatigue fracture. For this type of failure, a fractography analysis looks for features like river patterns, feather markings and chevron patterns to provide insights about the failure mode.
When materials are loaded beyond their capacity, a dimple rupture may occur. When evaluating this failure mode, fractography experts will look for tell-tale signs of dimple rupture, such as microvoid coalescence.
Decohesive rupture is a failure method that involves weakening of atomic bonds, and little plastic deformation. Fractography is used to determine if these types of failures are caused by hydrogen embrittlement, stress corrosion cracking, creep, or other causes.
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