Welcome to my site

Posted by Michael Pfeifer, Ph.D., P.E.

Welcome to my website. Several years ago, someone remarked “you’re an alchemist” after I explained what I do. Alchemy circles, like the one shown here, represented different changes of matter. Though I can’t transform lead to gold, I have transformed products by optimizing materials. I focus on understanding the science and engineering of materials in order to design and manufacture great products. Three principles are the basis of my approach:

Case Study: Cracking Tool Chuck Failure Analysis

Posted by Michael Pfeifer, Ph.D., P.E.
Chuck with crack

A stainless steel tool chuck was cracking during product assembly, affecting about 30% of all chuck. A failure analysis of the cracked chucks and analysis of the chuck design and manufacturing process was performed to determine the root cause of the cracking. This article discusses the findings and how the problem could have been prevented.

Case Study: Material Selection for Drive Shaft

Posted by Michael Pfeifer, Ph.D., P.E.

During product development of a power tool, the material to use for a drive shaft was being considered. Based on the requirements for the drive shaft an aluminum alloy was identified as a potential candidate. Evaluations were performed to to determine whether the alloy was suitable. Also supplier evaluations were conducted to identify a capable supplier of drive shafts once the product went into production. This case study discusses the evaluations and their results.

6 Ways to Prevent Failure Analysis Frustration

Posted by Michael Pfeifer, Ph.D., P.E.

Have you ever run into the following situation? A component within your product broke or your manufacturing line was producing bad components, and you wanted to determine the root cause of the failure. This required determining the failure mode and failure mechanism, and also determining whether there were any metallurgical deficiencies in the metal. So, you sent a sample to a metallurgical lab and get a report, but the report didn't have the information you needed or you didn't know what to do with the information in the report.

What is the difference between strength and toughness?

Posted by Michael Pfeifer, Ph.D., P.E.

Strength is a measure of the stress that a crack-free metal can bear before deforming or breaking under a single applied load. Fracture toughness is a measure of the amount of energy required to fracture a material that contains a crack. The tougher the material, the more energy required to cause a crack to grow to fracture. For a particular alloy, lower fracture toughness corresponds to less ductility. For example, glass has very low toughness and is very brittle.