- Identify what happened, who’s to blame, and what steps to take to prevent the problem from occurring again
- Offer your customer a well-written engineering report backed up by scientific evidence to avoid losing an account
- Get a down production line back up again in less than 24 hours
Our Forensic Process for Failure Analysis
Failure analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine the cause of a failure, often with the goal of determining corrective actions or liability.
Stolk labs is an independent testing laboratory specializing in failure analysis investigations. We have one of the top surface scientist is the country with over 30,000 tests completed and counting. Our experience can help to answer and solve a variety of different questions you may face.
Root Cause Failure Analysis
Failure Analysis is a multi-dimensional process, requiring multi-dimensional people to perform the process. We perform metallurgical analysis, chemical analysis, and surface analysis on the provided sample. Through a careful and extensive forensic examination and evaluation of the evidence, a root cause of failure is identified.
All evidence and forensic failure analysis results are photographically documented and presented in a report, which interprets and explains each finding in a clear and concise format. We also provide reports of evidence in support of resolving insurance claims, expert witness testimony, and litigation support in product liability and accident cases. We provide engineering conclusions as well as make sure your parts manufactured or parts you use match industry standards and specifications.
Our Forensic Process for Failure Analysis
- Collect failed component background information and service history.
- Perform a visual examination of failed and related components in the as-failed condition. This involves low magnification examinations using a stereomicroscope to locate critical areas for further analyses or testing. Take dimensional measurements as necessary.
- Analyze the fractured or degraded surfaces with a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) at high magnification.
- Using the SEM, determine the failure mode and origin/initiation site. Investigate the initiation site for unusual conditions or contributing factors. Identify and characterize the failure mechanism (fatigue, embrittlement, overload, type of corrosion, etc.). Investigate for unusual stress risers.
- Select, prepare, examine, and analyze the cross-sectional microstructure in the region of failure/fracture initiation. Analyze conditions of manufacturing reflected in microstructure and investigate potential flawed conditions. Investigate material quality and heat treatment conditions.
- Perform a chemical composition analysis of the failed component and its coatings or platings.
- Perform other testing as needed (mechanical, hardness, strength, toughness, etc.).
- Analyze all gathered evidence and test results to formulate an engineering opinion and conclusion.
Reverse Engineering for Failure Analysis
BAD MATERIAL OR BATCH LOT
Determine the root cause of a quality-related issue by testing if the material meets its original drawing specifications. Using our physical test equipment, we can easily reference the properties of a good Legacy Part against a Suspect Part. New suppliers often leave out an important process step from a procedure. Let us examine and analyze the part on a micro-scale, so you can correct the supplier with solid evidence presented with clarity and brevity in a formal report.
HARSH SERVICE CONDITIONS OR SUB-STANDARD COATING TECHNOLOGY
Environmental-induced failure modes are easy to identify using our high technology instrumentation specifically designed to detect corrosion accelerants. We then characterize the extent of material damage. Perhaps the product is only superficially degraded and only needs a cleaning procedure to recover the material lot. We can help determine if surface discoloration is just cosmetic by measuring its thickness and composition on an atomic scale with a Scanning Auger Electron Spectrometer.
ABUSE OR NEGLECT
Did an end-user overstress or impact the part in a manner that initiated a crack? Our microanalysis lab can document the damage level and, typically, what tool contacted the part. Chemically-aggressive part storage conditions will often deleteriously affect part appearance and result in customer complaints. Trace elements or compounds trapped in newly-formed oxidation are detectable with our chemical analyzing spectrometers.
Failure mechanisms can develop as a result of defective material choice or geometric changes that cannot withstand high stress. Locating fracture origins is an easy task for our staff that have decades of fractographic examination experience and extensive material exposure. Identifying the fracture mode will give evidence of a short- or long-term part reliability problem.