There is more to failure analysis of metal structural components than checking the "hardness and chemistry." There is more to failure analysis than hardness, chemistry and a micro."

Failure analysis is a process that is based on gaining understanding of the design and manufacturing processes for the component and the assembly in which it is used, as well as the operating stresses and environmental conditions.

There are many tests which are useful to the failure analysis practitioner. But if these tests are not performed correctly, at the "right" location, they might not "give the right answer."

Failure analysis is more than a series of tests. Failure analysis properly done should provide data from more than one test that is self consistent. The analysts consideration of the self consistency of the data obtained during the course of the investigation is CRITICAL to produce results that will actually help to prevent recurrences.

In fact, a failure analysis that does its job right will almost always show the way not only to prevention of recurrences on the component in question, but will bring the participants to a new level of understanding of how to improve the design - production - service cycle for additional products as well.

A reference :

Failure Prevention through Education: Getting to the Root Cause

Proceedings from a Conference held May, 2000, in Strongsville, Ohio, by ASM International Failure Analysis Committee

Available from ASM International

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