Failure Analysis

Whether your company is an OEM or vendor, when a part fails your reputation is on the line. A Failure Analysis must answer 3 critical questions to resolve the failure and assure your credibility with your customers. These questions are: 

  • How did it fail?
  • Why did it fail?
  • What will prevent it from failing?

If your investment in a Failure Analysis does not answer ALL THREE of these questions, then nothing has been solved.

Metallurgical Associates has performed over 12,000 Failure Analyses. We are experienced failure analysis experts who clearly and specifically answer the 3 critical questions in each failure analysis service we perform.

The Three Critical Questions

How did it fail? Materials fail by a variety of mechanisms, or modes, which exhibit distinct microscopic features. Typical failure modes include fatigue, brittle or ductile overload, corrosion, wear, hydrogen embrittlement, stress corrosion cracking, creep, and environmental degradation. MAI engineers identify the failure mode using the latest in stereo optical microscopy, high magnification SEM analysis, and Microstructure analysis.

Why did it fail? Variations in failure mode result from material characteristics, manufacturing processing history, design, service conditions, or a combination of these factors. The root cause of failure also corresponds to one or more of these parameters. We perform mechanical testing, chemical analysis and other tests when appropriate to determine material characteristics. Hardness, Micro-Hardness and Microstructure analysis identify the manufacturing process history. EDS analysis is performed, identifying corrosive environmental exposure, wear particles, or contaminants. Service stress is calculated and compared to material characteristics to identify design deficiencies or abuse in service. MAI engineers review and analyze test results and service history, identifying the exact cause of failure.

What will prevent it from failing? Recommendations that prevent failures are easily determined. Recommendations that are economical, practical and compatible with your existing manufacturing processes are another matter. MAI Materials Engineers apply experience and expertise to provide solutions that work. We partner with our clients to assure successful implementation of recommended changes.

Results – The fully documented report, with our recommendations, is emailed immediately upon completion of our analysis, a hard copy delivered by UPS or FedEx can be done upon request. Our reports clearly explain our findings and recommendations in technically precise but easily understandable terms. MAI engineers are always available to answer any questions and discuss reports by phone or email.

Failure Analysis Case Studies

Metallurgical Associates provides failure analyses to a comprehensive range of industries. Our analyses identify the cause and type of failure and, most critically, we provide practical cost-effective options manufacturing process or design to prevent future failures.

Corrosion Analysis

Corrosion is the most common and costly failure mode impacting engineered and structural materials, yet it tends to be accepted as inevitable precisely because it is so pervasive. Corrosion prevention maintenance and failures cost the US economy over $350 billion annually, the equivalent of 4.2 % of GDP and more than the annual cost of all oil imports. Numbers of this magnitude tend to be abstract statistics – until corrosion failures effect your product, divert your staff and resources, and eat into your profits. It doesn’t have to be so.

Metallurgical Associates provides experienced corrosion analysis and prevention to your company’s cost saving arsenal of resources. These include:

1 – Root cause analysis of corrosion failures and cost effective prevention. Identification of corrosion causing contaminants AND their source.

2 – Recommend corrosion resistant alloys, plating, coatings and surface treatments.

3 – Corrosion testing of alloys, plating, coatings and surface treatments to determine effectiveness in a comprehensive range of service environments.

4 – Ultrasonic Testing in the field of corroded storage tanks, structural supports and processing equipment to determine remaining service life.