Diagnostic failure analysis tools provide essential information about where a defect is located and what materials are present, but that information must be combined with other data to establish cause and corrective action. Mistakes made at this stage of the investigation can be extremely costly. This article identifies some of the pitfalls and traps that failure analysts can fall into and explains how to avoid them. It provides three examples of misdiagnosed failures and helps readers to see what led analysts astray.

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