In Fractography of Metals and Plastics, polymers expert witness Ronald J. Parrington, P.E. writes on materials failures:
The application of engineering materials is unavoidably accompanied by the occurrence of failures, many of which have been catastrophic. The consequences of material failures; including deaths, financial losses and legal ramifications; have encouraged the development of effective failure analysis methods. Although the cost of failure analysis may exceed the value of the part, the cost of service failures usually far exceeds the cost of failure analysis. Many of the techniques utilized over the years for the evaluation of metals have been successfully applied to plastics with only minor modifications…
Fractography is arguably the most valuable tool available to the failure analyst. Fractography, a term coined in 1944 to describe the science of examining fracture surfaces, has actually been utilized for centuries as part of the field of metallurgy. When material failure involves actual breakage, fractography can be employed to identify the fracture origin, direction of crack propagation, failure mechanism, material defects, environmental interaction, and the nature of stresses.
Excerpted from Fractography of Metals and Plastics,Ronald J. Parrington, P.E., IMR Test Labs
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