Failure Analysis - metallurgy consulting and expert

Failure Analysis

Metal Failure Analysis

Failure analysis is the process used to evaluate metal components to determine the reason for product and equipment failures and manufacturing quality problems.

We help clients with failure analysis and root cause analysis of problems related to the metals used in their products and equipment.

This video explains how we help clients solve problems

Why us?

For over 25 years, we’ve been helping clients find the root cause of failures and quality problems. We have experience with a wide range of materials and industries. See the About page for more about our background and experience.

We use a collaborative process to help clients quickly find and implement solutions. We'll work with your team to understand the issue and identify the metallurgical analyses required. Then we'll perform the analyses and, with input from your engineers, use the data to help identify the root cause of the problem.

Click here and complete the form. We'll contact you to set up a meeting to discuss the problem and next steps.

A collaborative process

We'll be part of your engineering team during the failure analysis. The collaboration and open communication ensures success and speed. We don't just give clients a lab report and leave it to them to figure out how to use the information. See this case study.

Time and action make a difference. Let’s talk today.

For the past 6 years Michael has provided metals engineering expertise to help us design products and fix quality problems. He fills a critical engineering gap and enables faster, better-informed decisions.

Al McGovern, Director Mechanical Engineering
Shure Inc., Illinois

Dr. Pfeifer's engineering approach helped improve the reliability of my company’s product. Metallurgical analyses and consideration of the metallurgical factors of importance led to an unsuspected solution involving materials and processes.

Stuart Gordon, President
Bestway Products Co., California

Failures and root cause analysis

When a failure or quality problem occurs, a root cause analysis must be performed to identify the primary event or decision that enabled the problem to occur. For product design and manufacturing, the results of a root cause analysis are used to implement corrective actions to prevent the failure from reoccurring. For insurance and legal situations, the information is used to make a claim for compensation or defend against a claim.

Root cause analysis begins with failure analysis

Metallurgical failure analysis is the first step of the root cause analysis process. For failures during testing and use, a failure analysis is performed to determine the failure mode and failure mechanism of the failed item, whether any metallurgical characteristics of the failed item contributed to the failure, and the metallurgical reason for the failure. For quality problems, a failure analysis is performed to assess metallurgical characteristics of the problem item, whether they meet the item’s specifications, and the metallurgical reason for the problem. The information obtained from a failure analysis is then used to identify the root cause of the failure or quality problem.

No failure analysis, no direction

It’s unlikely a root cause will be accurately identified without the information gained from a failure analysis. Instead, expect to live with a lingering problem. Amazingly, this is exactly what happens in many organizations.

The most important action to take

The best step to take when a metal problem occurs is to call a metallurgist. In every case I have ever worked for a client, the benefits of involving a metallurgist quickly outweighed the cost, time, or effort used with any other approach. Just like any problem in life, when done properly, formal failure analysis saves money, effort, and time. What distinguishes us from other metallurgical organizations is metals engineering expertise combined with lots of experience with every aspect of product design and manufacturing. With this broad experience, we bring multiple perspectives to help clients quickly get the information they need to solve problems and help them use the information to solve the problem.

Metal failure analysis is a science for identifying the root cause of problems.

Understanding what causes your metal failures is key to preventing them from happening again. We will get you the information you need to help you identify the root cause and the corrective action to prevent the problem from reoccurring. Hire us to find out what’s wrong with your product, equipment, or manufacturing process so that it doesn’t fail again!

Check out this classic book about component failures: Understanding How Components Fail, 3rd Edition

Your on-call metallurgy and metals engineering experts

Imagine having a team of professionals dedicated to providing solutions for metal failures, regardless of where or when they occur. They can help you pinpoint the root cause and provide you with recommendations on how best to prevent the failures from occurring again. For people involved with product design and manufacturing, learning more about failure analysis will help you productively deal with component failures and quality problems. Want to learn more? Take our failure analysis course or webinar.

Failure analysis process summary

Needs Review Every failure analysis project starts with a conversation with you and your engineering team to review the problem and collect background information. This is done by phone or internet meeting and usually takes 15 – 30 minutes. There’s no charge for this step. We’ll review photos and drawings of the problem component or material and discuss the circumstances of the problem. We will also discuss the project scope, the metallurgical analysis and samples required, and approximate cost. For the scope, it’s critical to have complete agreement on the problem to solve.

Identify the Project Approach This is where I use my experience, training, and knowledge to identify the best path forward. This includes metallurgical analysis of components or metal stock. Selecting the appropriate metallurgical analyses and samples to examine is critical to get information that enables finding the cause of the problem and preventing it from reoccurring. The approach might also include review of technical literature and discussions with suppliers.

Project Quote A project quote includes the project scope, the work to be performed, and the cost. After you approve the work we begin right away, and we meet or beat our timelines. We understand that failure analysis work is time sensitive.

Perform the Analyses The metallurgical analyses are performed, and the data is collected and reviewed. The analysis information combined with the background information is used to identify the metallurgical cause of the problem and possible root causes.

Review data We review the analysis findings with you and discuss possible root causes of the failure or problem. At this point your input is important. The metallurgical analyses results will indicate the conditions that cause the failure and whether there was anything metallurgically wrong with the metal. However, more background information is often needed to use the analysis to identify the root cause. Your knowledge about the item’s design, manufacturing, and use are important. This part is key - we won’t just give you a report and leave it to you to figure out how to use the information to fix your problem. We work with clients to help them use failure analysis results to understand how the failure or problem occurred, its root cause, and how to prevent it from reoccurring. This is what distinguishes us from other companies that offer failure analysis. We do more than just forensics - we help engineer solutions.

Written Report and Support Once you have your reports and understand the findings we continue to support you throughout the implementation of the changes recommended. One reason to choose Industrial Metallurgists is because of our ongoing support during implementation.

Check out Michael Pfeifer's articles about metals and product reliability on the Accendo Reliability website



Past projects

  • 304 stainless steel mixing blades – fatigue fracture
  • Fractured forged 1045 steel
  • Nitronic stainless steel wire component - inconsistent springback during forming
  • Copper tube - identify surface residue and origin
  • Crimped high-power component - determine whether crack was in braze joint
  • Washing machine brass hose connector - Identify root cause of corrosion and fracture
  • Hastelloy C-22 equipment - cracking near weld joints
  • Grade 5 hex head steel screw - fracture
  • Welds between cast 1045 steel parts - weak weld joints
  • Coated steel corrosion
  • Coated steel container - corrosion during product testing
  • 430 stainless steel sheet metal cracking during component fabrication
  • Motor electrical steel too strong and hard
  • Battery connector - corrosion
  • Integrated circuit solder joint - fractured
  • 440C stainless steel heat treatment - component too soft
  • PH stainless steel component - cracking during manufacturing
  • A2 tool steel fixturing component - wear during use
  • 6061 aluminum shaft - fractured
  • Steel shaft - fractured
  • Sensitized 316 stainless steel
  • 4140 steel swedge - fractured
  • Brass plumbing component - fractured
  • 3003 aluminum power supply housing - electrical damage
  • Stainless steel sheet - corrosion from muriatic acid fumes
  • Brass faucet - leak
  • Clogged pumps - Identify origin of particles causing clogs
  • Flexible printed circuit board (PCB) interconnection - cracked metal
  • 3003 aluminum sheet - Identify source of surface contamination
  • 316 stainless steel gas hose - identify cause of sensitization
  • Forged 1045 steel component - fractured

Industrial Metallurgists, LLC

Providing metals engineering expertise for failure analysis and forensic investigations of metal components and products.
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