failure analysis

Failure analysis is the analytical process of determining why something failed. The process is investigative in nature. It involves an understanding of the materials, the manufacturing processes involved, the field usage, the history of the part, and identifying the failure mode. Failure may be caused by poor design, incorrect material, material contamination, overstress of the material, molding defects, poor processing, wear, corrosion, and elevated temperatures.

Northeast Consulting Engineers, Inc. has experience investigating failures with metals, plastics, concrete, wood, glass, and rubber.

Identifying the particular failure mode is often a key in determining why something failed. Ductile fractures, brittle fractures, fatigue failures, wear, corrosion failures, and failure due to elevated temperature are typical failure modes that may come into play. A stress analysis or Finite Element Analysis (FEA) can often be used to support a particular failure mode hypothsis.

Many times the failure mode can be determined from a relatively simple field or bench examination. When a more detailed analysis is required, Northeast Consulting Engineers, Inc. uses outside laboratories for optical microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), chemical analysis, and mechanical testing. For example, after a chemical analysis of a failed boat nylon sling, Northeast Consulting Engineers, Inc. was able to determine that a phosphoric acid boat cleaner caused the rapid deterioration the boat sling resulting in a failure.

Applications
  • Boat slings
  • Elliptical trainer metal shaft
  • Scissor lift arms
  • Tree stands
  • Automotive radiator shrouds
  • Wire belts
  • Bus radius rods
  • Ball joints
  • Steering rods
  • Plastic saw horses
  • Plastic chairs
  • Metal porch chairs
  • Champagne bottles
  • Glass windows
  • Glass carafs
  • Proximity switches
  • Glass candle holders
  • Personal water craft steering housing
  • Automotive headlight filaments
  • Solder joints
  • Underground storage tanks