Components fail for one of four reasons: abuse, improper design, improper material selection, improper processing. Usually two reasons can be quickly eliminated, which helps to define the optimal testing sequence to properly answer the failure question. A metallurgist and a mechanical engineer represent a strong team to assess mode of failure. Causes of failure include: over stressed, excessive brittleness, corrosion, stress corrosion cracking (SCC), fatigue, design error, material quality, cold temperatures, hot temperatures, quality of water contacting the material, etc.
Determining cause of failure is routinely used in accidents (assessing product liability, cause of personal injury), insurance claims, and industry to keep America running as efficiently as possible.
Reitz, W., “Failure Analysis – Theory and Engineering,” NACE, 46, (12), 54-59, 2007.
Reitz, W., “Failure Analysis – Case Histories,” NACE, 47, (1), 72-75, 2008.