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Metallurgical Failure Analysis:

Techniques and Case Studies

Prepared By: Derrick Sarafinchan, M.Eng., P.Eng.


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Failure Analysis Objectives


Primary objective
! Identify the root cause for a particular failure

Failed Component(s)

Failure Analysis Investigation

1. Metallurgical Evaluation

Reporting: Examination Findings Failure Mechanism(s) Probable Root Cause

2. Root Cause Analysis


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Failed Component
Definitions
Failure: A term which infers that a component or assembly is in a state of damage that renders it no longer capable of reliably performing its intended function.

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Failed Component
Definitions
Secondary Damage: Inadvertent changes to a component that may or may not affect functionality.
! Prior Damage: damage that may have contributed to the failure ! Consequential Damage: damage that resulted due to continued operation post failure ! Mechanical/Environmental Damage: subjected to the failed component
! Handling ! Cleaning ! Storage

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Failed Component
General Failure Categories
Fracture (full section) Cracking (partial section) Distortion (bending, elongation, plastic collapse) Corrosion (pitting, through wall perforation) Wear (material wastage)

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Failure Analysis Investigation


1. Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
WHAT physical evidence can be attained from the failed component(s)?

B. Identify Failure Mechanism(s)


HOW did the damage/failure occur, in metallurgical terms?

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Primary Objectives:

1. Characterize Failure
Identify Failure Origin Characterize fracture textures

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Primary Objectives:

Fracture Examples
Fracture Macro Textures:
! Ductile shear lip

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
1. Characterize Failure

Fracture Examples
Fracture Macro Textures:
! Chevron markings

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
1. Characterize Failure

Fracture Examples
Fracture Macro Textures:
! Ratchet markings ! Beach markings
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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
1. Characterize Failure

Fracture Examples
Fracture Micro Textures:
! Intergranular

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
1. Characterize Failure

Fracture Examples
Fracture Micro Textures:
! Transgranular ! Dimple (MVC)

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
1. Characterize Failure

Fracture Examples
Fracture Micro Textures:
! Transgranular ! Cleavage

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
1. Characterize Failure

Fracture Examples
Fracture Micro Textures:
! Transgranular ! Striated ! Fibrous textured

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Primary Objectives: 2. Characterize and categorize other forms of visual damage present.
Secondary cracks along component or adjacent to fracture Anomalies associated with the region of initiation or otherwise potentially contributory to the failure

3. Characterize the material.


Microstructure Composition Mechanical Properties

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Tools and Techniques: 1. 2. 3. Visual examination and NDE (by eye) Macroscopic examination (stereomicroscope) provides depth of field magnification to about 20X Microscopic examination
Fractures - examined by SEM to characterize fracture textures (20X to 3000X magnification) Prepared cross section - optical microscopy (no depth of field magnifications between 50 and 1000X)
! Characterize microstructure and damage/fracture profiles

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Tools and Techniques:

4. Chemical Analysis
Generally for grade verification or impurity evaluation Examples:
! Stainless steel corrosion/oxidation resistance ! Alloy steel hardenability, temper embrittlement resistance, weldability

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Tools and Techniques:

4. Chemical Analysis
Typical Methods Bulk Analysis
!Spark Emission !Wet Analysis

Microanalysis
!SEM EDX !XRF/XRD (non-metallic scales and friable substances)

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Tools and Techniques:

5. Mechanical Testing
Generally for purposes of grade determination/verification, or estimation of component fracture properties Examples:
! Material strength and ductility ! Fatigue properties ! Fracture resistance

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Metallurgical Evaluation
A. Examination and Testing
Tools and Techniques:

5. Mechanical Testing
Typical Methods
Hardness testing (micro and macro) Tensile testing (yield, ultimate, and elongation) Charpy V-notch impact testing (temperature transition, value conversion for Level 1 fracture mechanics assessment) Fatigue testing (axial or bending) Fracture toughness testing (CTOD)

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Metallurgical Evaluation
B. Identification of Failure Mechanism(s)
Definition
Specific series of events that describe both how the damage was incurred and the resulting consequences.

Examples
Metal fatigue Stress corrosion cracking Hydrogen embrittlement Ductile or brittle fracture High temperature creep, oxidation, sulphidation
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Failure Analysis Investigation


2. Root Cause Analysis
General Categories of Failure Root Cause
Metallurgical deficiencies Mechanical overload Service environment Manufacturing deficiency Remanufacturing/repair deficiency Design deficiency

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Root Cause Analysis


Common Metallurgical Deficiencies
Castings - Porosity (shrinkage)

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Root Cause Analysis


Common Metallurgical Deficiencies
Castings - Poor homogeneity

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Root Cause Analysis


Common Metallurgical Deficiencies
Castings - Microsegregation (Al-N embrittlement)

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Root Cause Analysis


Common Metallurgical Deficiencies
Wrought Materials (rolled, forged, etc.)
Inadequate heat treatment
! Inadequate case depth ! Poor transformation

Poor chemical homogeneity

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Root Cause Analysis


Common Metallurgical Deficiencies
Wrought Materials (rolled, forged, etc.)
Poor material cleanliness (eg. sulphur, phosphorus, tramp elements)

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Root Cause Analysis


Common Metallurgical Deficiencies
Wrought Materials (rolled, forged, etc.)
Forging flaws (seams, laps)

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Root Cause Analysis


Common Metallurgical Deficiencies
Welds
Lack of fusion, lack of penetration Slag Insufficient preheat (elevated hardness, residual stresses) Elevated hydrogen Under matched consumable selection

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Root Cause Analysis


General Categories
Metallurgical deficiencies Remanufacturing/ repair deficiency Mechanical overload Service environment Manufacturing deficiency Design deficiency

Metallurgy determines cause

Metallurgy alone is not sufficient

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Root Cause Analysis


Solving the Problem when the Metallurgy Appears Sound
Example: Mechanical Failures

General Approach
1. Assess for mechanical overload relative to rated capacity. 2. Assess for a critical manufacturing deficiency relative to component design. 3. Examine component design for deficiencies relative to intended service conditions.

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Root Cause Analysis


Solving the Problem when the Metallurgy Appears Sound
Example: Mechanical Failures

Detailed Approach
1. Attain additional information and knowledge:
Attain background information regarding the failure and equipment Understand the mechanics of the equipment and the operating conditions

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Root Cause Analysis


Solving the Problem when the Metallurgy Appears Sound
Example: Mechanical Failures

Detailed Approach
2. Application of Metallurgical Findings
Failure mechanism Failure origin Direction and mode of loading Condition of loading (single event or cyclic)

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Root Cause Analysis


Solving the Problem when the Metallurgy Appears Sound
Example: Mechanical Failures

Detailed Approach
3. Perform a component stress assessment
A. Metallurgical Approach Estimate applied loading causing failure ! Ductile failure (yield, ultimate strength) ! Brittle failure from flaw precursor (fracture toughness) ! Fatigue failures (estimation of material endurance limit for conditions of loading based on microstructure, tensile strength, or fatigue test data)
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Root Cause Analysis


Solving the Problem when the Metallurgy Appears Sound
Example: Mechanical Failures

Detailed Approach
3. Perform a component stress assessment
B. Mechanical Approach Estimate nominal service stresses and critical failure loads ! Closed form analysis (moment, force balance) ! Finite element analysis ! Instrumented strain gauge analysis

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Failure Analysis Investigation


Summary
1. Metallurgical Evaluation
! Failure mechanism ! Material compliance and properties

2. Root Cause Analysis


! Background information ! Analytical analysis ! Rationalization

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