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Failure Analysis

Failure Analysis Laboratory

‘Failure’ can be defined as the inability of a component, machine, or process to function as per desired or set specifications. Failure in a material can result in any one or a combination of the following: (1) Loss of intended function, (2) Loss of service life, i.e. the material performs its functions, but will not last its service life, and (3) Complete inoperability of the test material. Any type of failure can be expected to occur at the weakest link in the chain of the continuous process of engineering design, fabrication, and performance. ‘Failure analysis’ of engineering materials is the systematic investigation of the cause of failure of a component, and the subsequent prevention of future failures based on acquired data on failure. Analyzing failures is an important step in determining the physical root causes of problems. After the completion of the investigation, its findings are documented in a report.

The major reasons for ‘Failure’ in a material are as follows:

✤ Improper use (Misuse or Abuse)

✤ Design Errors

✤ Assembly errors

✤ Improper material selection

✤ Manufacturing defects

✤ Inadequate Quality assurance

✤ Inadequate environmental protection/control

The general steps of any ‘Failure Analysis’ are as follows:

✤ Obtaining background information of the material

✤ Conducting a visual examination, archiving and recording the physical evidence at the same time.

✤ Conducting tests to ascertain the real cause of failure. The tests can be:

✤ Macroscopic examination

✤ Non-destructive testing

✤ Chemical analysis

✤ Mechanical Testing

✤ Metallographic examination

✤ Analyzing the data to reach a conclusion as to the cause of failure.

✤ Providing recommendations for the test material, and giving suggestions for preventing future failures.

✤ ‘Failure Analysis’ finds applications in a number of industries like metals & alloys, plastics & polymers, electrical and electronic products, construction etc. There are several useful methods or techniques to prevent product failures, like Failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) and fault tree analysis (FTA).

The advantages of ‘Failure Analysis’ are as follows:

✤ Helps in identification of deficiencies and defects in certain structural materials, and prevent their premature failure.

✤ Helps in improving designs of a material so as to improve its properties in terms of reliability and durability.

✤ Helps in avoiding accidents related to the use of certain materials.

✤ Results of Failure analysis can be used as the basis for litigation and insurance claims.

Modi Laboratary ’s ‘Failure Analysis’ results provide a clear picture of the root cause of the problem, and include suggestions to avoid future failures, which include better and efficient design of component, proper material selection and optimum processing techniques. Over the last few years many such types of evaluations have been performed successfully by Modi Laboratary .