Failure analysis of various types of components is a very critical process that can save people’s lives. Typically, when huge and expensive equipment such as the space shuttle Challenger or a Boeing aircraft crashes, the reason for the crash is often because a small washer, nut, or other type of small component that cost just a few cents failed, leading to the subsequent failure of the whole system.
When the Challenger space shuttle exploded 20 years ago it was because the O-rings cracked overnight in the cool temperatures and failed shortly after the craft was launched. Because of this, it is very important that all components are tested and failure analysis is designed to let the manufacturer know which part failed, why it failed and if there was any warning before it failed.
Failure analysis is carried out for components of many types of things such as automobiles, airplanes, cranes and hoists, industrial goods, electrical equipment, electronic components and products, metals, plastics and rubber components, etc. Failure analysis can be done either for a component that has failed in the field during actual use or failure analysis also means components can be tested to know the conditions under which a component can fail. There are many different things that can cause a part to fail such as extreme heat, oxidation, extreme cold, moisture, weight, inherent defects, age, wear and tear, irradiation, stress cracking and corrosion, etc.
There are many types of instruments that can be used in failure analysis such as analyzers, data loggers, meters, industrial software, leak detectors, and measurement instruments, etc.
The analysis study helps in better design of the product to ensure that components do not fail in the future. Failure analysis can be a destructive analysis, where the component is destroyed in the testing process or in non-destructive analysis. Components are tested for things such as their rated vales of compression, fatigue, wear, creep, tensile, rupture, shear and tension. Chemical analysis of components is also done to ensure that the component has the right mix of alloyed materials in it.
Failure analysis is a very critical part of industry for obvious reasons and one of the best examples of it is in the automobile industry where tests are constantly being carried out with crash test dummies to see at what point the components of an automobile may fail.