You are on page 1of 15

Common Causes of Failure

Misuse or Abuse

Assembly errors

Manufacturing defects

Improper maintenance

Fastener failure

Design errors

Improper material

Improper heat treatments

Unforeseen operating conditions

Inadequate quality assurance

Inadequate environmental protection/control

Casting discontinuities

Preventing Fatigue Failure
The most effective method of improving fatigue performance is
improvements in design:

Eliminate or reduce stress raisers by streamlining the part

Avoid sharp surface tears resulting from punching, stamping,
shearing, or other processes

Prevent the development of surface discontinuities during
processing.

Reduce or eliminate tensile residual stresses caused by
manufacturing.

A failure analysis can determine the cause of the failure. Examples of some requirements for fasteners are listed below:  Higher strength  Increased high temperature dependability  Increased low temperature dependability  Reduced cost  Easier maintenance  Improved corrosion resistance . The failure may be due the discontinuity. Fastener Failure The primary function of a fastener is to transfer load. improper maintenance or other causes. There are many types of fasteners. Because most engineering materials contain discontinuities most metal fatigue cracks initiate from discontinuities in highly stressed regions of the component. Improve the details of fabrication and fastening procedures Fatigue Failure Analysis Metal fatigue is a significant problem because it can occur due to repeated loads below the static yield strength. design. This can result in an unexpected and catastrophic failure in use.

Conversely. the choice may be constrained by a complex set of requirements. The scope and complexity of the fastener system required is frequently determined by the consequences of fastener failure.The choice of a fastener is dependent on the design requirements and environment in which the fastener will be used. Attention to various aspects of the fastener must be considered. The choice of the correct fastener may simply entail fulfilling a requirement for strength (static or fatigue) or for corrosion resistance. . Some of these are listed below:  Function of the fastener  Operating environment of the fastener  Type of loading on the fastener in service  Thickness of materials to be joined  Type of materials to be joined  Configuration of the joint to be fastened An analysis of these requirements is necessary before a suitable fastener can be chosen. because larger-diameter fasteners can have considerably lower fatigue endurance limits than smaller-diameter fasteners. One method of guarding against failure of a new fastener in a critical application is to sufficiently test the fastener system prior to use. A designer must be careful when extrapolate existing data to an increased size of the same fastener.

or other device forms an upset on the inaccessible side when a blind fastener is installed. Typically a self-contained mechanism. and special-purpose fasteners are usually designed for permanent or semipermanent installation. Threaded fasteners are commonly thought of as any threaded part that. such as retaining rings. bolts. However. may be removed without damage to the fastener or to the members being joined. pin fasteners. after joint assembly. and studs. rivets. an explosive. latches. the numerous problems that have occurred have motivated the development and testing of many special purpose fasteners. slotted springs.Mechanical Fasteners Mechanical fasteners are frequently grouped as listed below:  Pin fasteners  Threaded fasteners  Rivets  Blind fasteners  Special purpose fasteners  Fasteners for composites Rivets. Blind fasteners are commonly multiple part devices that can be installed in a joint that is accessible from only one side. The common pins. quick removal and replacement and commonly show little or no deterioration with repeated use. Special-purpose fasteners are often proprietary. Rivets are permanent one piece fasteners one end of the rivet is mechanically upset during installation. and blind fasteners are used with composites. Pin fasteners are fasteners are used in joints in which the load is primarily shear. Mechanical fasteners for composites are often used in combination with adhesive bonding to increase the reliability of highly stressed joints. A collar is sometimes swaged or formed on the pin to secure the joint. These fasteners are frequently designed to allow easy. Pins can be either solid or tubular. .

Some of the problems with fasteners for composites are listed below:  Pullout of the fastener under load  Drilling damage to the composite  Installation damage to the composite  Delamination of the composite material near the hole  Differences in expansion coefficients between the composite and the fastener  Galvanic corrosion between the composite and the fastener  Fuel leaks around the fastener  Fretting ASTM and SAE specifications covering threaded fasteners require that the heads be marked for grade identification. and use of a fastener and allows for inspection for the proper use of the fastener. The markings diminish the likelihood of selecting and using a fastener of insufficient strength. Grade markings are a safety feature that provides a means to verify the selection. Causes of Fastener Failures Some causes of fastener failure are listed below:  Shear  Overload  Fatigue  Corrosion  Manufacturing discrepancies  Improper installation . Incorrect fasteners have the potential to lead to a failure and cause damage to equipment or injury of personnel.

. gas turbine engines. Failures may appear ductile or brittle. One example of fatigue loading is vibration. In addition to overload and fatigue.Fastener Failure Analysis A fastener may experience either static loading or fatigue loading. These static loading conditions may occur in combination. Failures involving creep are usually easy to identify due to the deformation that occurs. Some common questions concerning fasteners are listed below:  How were the fasteners torqued?  In what order were fasteners tightened?  What is the best way to verify the torque on fasteners?  How does torque value vary over time? Fatigue is one of the most common failure modes for threaded fasteners. or torsion. While creep testing is done at constant temperature and constant load actual components may experience damage at various temperatures and loading conditions. manufacturing. crevice corrosion. stress corrosion cracking. and hydrogen damage may contribute to fastener failure Material selection. An understanding of high temperature materials behavior is beneficial in evaluating failures in these types of systems. and ovens are some of the systems that have components that experience creep. some other common reasons for fastener failures include environmental issues. liquid immersion corrosion. cutting or rolling threads. assembly. High Temperature Failure Analysis Creep occurs under load at high temperature. atmospheric corrosion. and improper use or incorrect installation. Boilers. and design are some of the factors that effect fastener failures. heat treatment. Failure analysis can determine the cause of the fastener failure and determine the primary or contributing causes of fastener failure. Fretting failures may result from small movements between adjacent surfaces. Static loading may be tension. Cracking may be either transgranular or intergranular. shear. bending. Additionally. manufacturing discrepancies. galvanic corrosion.

Creep of Metals High temperature progressive deformation of a material at constant stress is called creep. During this period deformation takes . A typical creep curve is shown below: In a creep test a constant load is applied to a tensile specimen maintained at a constant temperature. is a period of decreasing creep rate. Strain is then measured over a period of time. Stage I. High temperature is a relative term that is dependent on the materials being evaluated. is the strain rate of the test during stage II or the creep rate of the material. Primary creep is a period of primarily transient creep. The slope of the curve. Primary creep. identified in the above figure.

place and the resistance to creep increases until stage II. Secondary creep. Once a designer knows the materials will creep and has accounted for this deformation a primary goal is to avoid failure of the component. Stress rupture testing is always done until failure of the material. Stage III. . is a period of roughly constant creep rate. Tertiary creep. In creep testing the main goal is to determine the minimum creep rate in stage II. Stress Rupture Stress rupture testing is similar to creep testing except that the stresses used are higher than in a creep test. Stage II is referred to as steady state creep. Stage II. occurs when there is a reduction in cross sectional area due to necking or effective reduction in area due to internal void formation.

This information can then be used to extrapolate time to failure for longer times. Data is plotted log-log as in the chart above. An externally applied load is not required as the tensile stresses may be due to residual stresses in the material. It is significant to be aware of these changes in material behavior. Hydrogen embrittlement failures are frequently unexpected and sometimes catastrophic. Failure Analysis High temperature failures are a significant problem. A straight line is usually obtained at each temperature.Stress rupture tests are used to determine the time to cause failure. Hydrogen Embrittlement When tensile stresses are applied to hydrogen embrittled component it may fail prematurely. The threshold stresses to cause cracking are commonly below the yield stress of the material. A failure analysis can identify the root cause of your failure to prevent reoccurrence. Changes in slope of the stress rupture line are due to structural changes in the material. because they could result in large errors when extrapolating the data. AMC can provide failure analysis of high temperature failures to identify the root cause of your component failure. .

electroplating and welding. Thus. Liquid Metal Embrittlement Liquid metal embrittlement is the decrease in ductility of a metal caused by contact with liquid metal.High strength steel. Hydrogen can be introduced into the material in service or during materials processing. Hydrogen embrittlement is an insidious type of failure as it can occur without an externally applied load or at loads significantly below yield stress. catastrophic failure can occur without significant deformation or obvious deterioration of the component. susceptible material. Very small amounts of liquid metal are sufficient to result in embrittlement. Some events that may permit liquid metal embrittlement under the appropriate circumstances are listed below:  Brazing  Soldering  Welding  Heat treatment  Hot working  Elevated temperature service . Common causes of hydrogen embrittlement are pickling. and the presence of hydrogen are necessary to cause hydrogen embrittlement. however hydrogen embrittlement is not limited to these processes. While high strength steels are the most common case of hydrogen embrittlement all materials are susceptible. Very small amounts of hydrogen can cause hydrogen embrittlement in high strength steels. Hydrogen Embrittlement Failures Tensile stresses. The decrease in ductility can result in catastrophic brittle failure of a normally ductile material. such as quenched and tempered steels or precipitation hardened steels are particularly susceptible to hydrogen embrittlement. Residual stresses or externally applied loads resulting in stresses significantly below yield stresses can cause cracking.

This results in a ductile fracture mode occurring at reduced tensile strength. Stress Concentration . it is also required to have the component in contact with a liquid metal that will embrittle the component. Thus. Liquid Metal Embrittlement Failures The liquid metal can not only reduce the ductility but significantly reduce tensile strength. Liquid metal embrittlement is an insidious type of failure as it can occur at loads below yield stress. Intergranular or transgranular cleavage fracture are the common fracture modes associated with liquid metal embrittlement. catastrophic failure can occur without significant deformation or obvious deterioration of the component. An appropriate analysis can determine the effect of liquid metal embrittlement on failure. However reduction in mechanical properties due to decohesion can occur.In addition to an event that will allow liquid metal embrittlement to occur.

The image on the right shows a uniform stress field represented as imaginary uniform stress lines that concentrate in intensity at the root of the notch. etc. While there may be additional factors causing this to occur residual stresses help explain these occurrences. Residual stresses are stresses that are inside or locked into a component or assembly of parts. there are also processes or processing errors that can induce . Common examples of these are bending. While this is not a common occurrence. Stress concentrations may permit failure modes to occur more quickly in fatigue. experienced people in the metal working industry have witnessed this phenomenon. Another example are the thermal stresses induced when welding. Residual Stresses Residual stresses can be sufficient to cause a metal part to suddenly split into two or more pieces after it has been resting on a table or floor without external load being applied. One example of residual stresses preventing failure is the shot peening of component to induce surface compressive stresses that improve the fatigue life of the component.The image at the right shows the concept of stress concentration at the root of the notch on the left. stress corrosion cracking. The internal state of stress is caused by thermal and/or mechanical processing of the parts. Residual stresses can play a significant role in explaining or preventing failure of a component at times. creep. Unfortunately. rolling or forging a part.

creating circumferential compression stresses in the rim. If the thin spokes were not under a proper tensile preload load the thin wire spokes could not adequately support the load of the rider. It is an important discipline in many branches of manufacturing industry. It must be kept in mind that the internal stresses are balanced in a component. Tensile residual stresses are counter balanced by compressive residual stresses. It is especially important in manufacturing and field use of safety-critical and mission-critical equipment. The spokes pull the rim inward. The two factors that control this are thermal treatment (heating or cooling) and restraint. Both the thermal treatment and restraint of the component must be present to generate residual stresses. Failure analysis may be applied to both products and processes. such as the electronics industry. Conversely. where it is a vital tool used in the development of new products and for the improvement of existing products. it must be kept in mind that residual stresses are three-dimensional. Failure Analysis Methods. A bicycle wheel is a very light and strong because of the way in which the components are stressed. A good common example of mechanically applied residual stresses is a bicycle wheel. the spokes pull the tubular hub outward. Tools and Services Failure analysis is the process of collecting and analyzing data to determine the cause of a failure and how to prevent it from recurring.excessive tensile residual stresses in locations that might promote failure of a component. The distortion can be useful in estimating the magnitude or direction of the residual stresses. While this is an aid to understanding. Residual stresses can result in visible distortion of a component. The wire spokes are aligned radialy and tightening the spokes creates tensile radial stresses. Thermal residual stresses are primarily due to differential expansion when a metal is heated or cooled. . To better visualize residual stresses it is sometimes helpful to picture tension and compression springs to represent tensile and compressive residual stresses.

classifies and prioritizes end effects level of importance based on failure rate and severity of the effect of failure. QS9000. defence. Analysis and Corrective Actions System) should be used. JEP131 and other standards. It is required and compatible with MIL-STD-1629A and other standards (like GJB 1391. Collected data are subject to statistical analysis. to the extent possible. It is required by many other standards like ISO 14971 (Medical devices risk management) and more . electronic and other industries require that FMECA analysis must be performed for all designed/manufactured/acquisition systems. To accomplish this goal special software system called FRACAS (Failure Reporting. GJB 1392. Potential Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) complies with AIAG. potential failure modes and their associated causes/mechanisms have been considered and addressed. Effects and Criticality Analysis) is a continuation of system reliability analysis. There are several different failure analysis methods and tools: Failure Data Collection Failure analysis of safety-critical and mission-critical equipment on the field use stage requires failure data collection and statistical analysis. It analyzes different failure modes and their effects on the system.Failure analysis may be conducted on the design stage and on field use stage of the product life cycle. safety management system. workflow system with alerts and escalation and more FMECA Hardware FMEA and FMECA (Failure Mode. Many standards and regulations for aerospace. criticality analysis and testability analysis. FMECA includes failure analysis. sometimes called "automotive" or "AIAG" (Automotive Industry Action Group) FMEA. FMEA Potential FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) is analytical technique utilized as a mean to assure that. Corrective actions are suggested and selected for implementation and control plan is formed as part of the procedure. SAE J 1739. AIR FORCE SMC REGULATION 800-31 and more). telecommunications. Such system also gives realtime added value for the organization and acts like fleet management system. especially if they are mission or safety critical. IEC 60812.

FTA uses deductive approach (from system failure to its reasons) and ETA uses the inductive approach (from basic failure to its consequences). it's influence on other events and on the whole system . but the approach is different . and here its main advantage over FMEA/FMECA. Event Tree Analysis uses similar logic and mathematics as Fault Tree Analysis. System failures are often referred to as top events. Fault Trees investigate consequences of multiple simultaneous failures or events. can be used to stop the failure from occurring. alternatively. A Fault Tree is a graphical representation of events in a hierarchical. A deductive analysis using a Fault Tree begins with a general conclusion or hazard. software. and human error failures that could result in a specified risk or system failure. which is displayed at the top of a hierarchical tree. tree-like structure. An event tree itself is a visual representation of single failure sequences. Event Tree Analysis (ETA) It is an inductive failure analysis performed to determine the consequences of single failure for the overall system risk or reliability.Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) Fault Trees are one of the most widely used methods in system reliability and failure probability analysis. It is used to determine various combinations of hardware. This deductive analysis is the final event in a sequence of events for which the Fault Tree is used to determine if a failure will occur or. which investigate single-pint failures.