Defective Material and Catastrophic Failures
Examining defective materials may sound straightforward, but situations involving improper material selection or manufacturing defects can quickly become complex. Anything from expired shelf life and contact with chemical agents to mishandling and environmental factors can compromise the material properties and life of a component.
To forensically investigate such failures, one must analyze evidence with a deep understanding of material properties and appropriate instruments and techniques.
Key Components of Defective Material Investigations
Envista Forensics has investigated numerous situations where the material was defective and led to a catastrophic failure. Our familiarity with industry standards including ASTM, SAE, ASME/ANSI, and ISO makes us uniquely qualified to investigate all types of material failures.
When material failure investigations are conducted, some key components to review are:
- Initial design documents to evaluate the material and its appropriateness in the application (e.g. more corrosion-resistant material that could have been used)
- Material chemistry and mechanical properties
- Procurement specifications to make sure the proper material was ordered
- Documents shipped with the purchased material to see if the correct material was delivered, although testing should still be conducted regardless of what the documents say
- Macroscopic and microscopic examinations of any fracture surface
- Metallographic analysis of the component
Envista's experts are well-versed in using scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), hardness testing, and various other analytical techniques to determine the mechanism and cause of material failure.
A diverse range of materials is used in consumer products and across various industries. An equally wide range of techniques is used to examine these materials. Our expert engineers and consultants are familiar with all sorts of materials, as well as the specialized equipment and techniques used to analyze them, including:
- Advanced composites
- Building materials
- Wood products
Using a series of scientific methods, Envista Forensics specialists can identify issues like stress risers, voids, material softening, and degradation, as well as diagnose the root cause of the failure.
Our analysis and expert reports can help you make better engineering and management decisions, prevent further catastrophic material failures and improve your business operations. In case of material failure, we will guide you through every step of the process, working according to your schedule and budget.