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The subject of failure analysis has received considerable attention over the past two decades, primarily because of concerns related to safety and equipment reliability. The increasing interest in these factors may be due to the strong impact of economic changes and the pressure exerted by expanded competition on the global market. In the United States, increases in litigation have forced manufacturers, distributors, and operators to investigate failures and identify their root causes in order to avoid potential liability. Despite the growing interest in failure analysis, literature in this area remains scarce; the main sources have been the 8th and 9th Editions of Metals Handbook (now ASM Handbook) and a few books published more than 10 years ago. These books covered limited topics and concentrated on basic failure modes and fracture mechanisms.

Over the past 10 years, considerable developments in the field of failure analysis and reliability have emerged with the acceptance of new methodologies in materials analysis and fracture mechanics. Today, actual materials properties can be determined without affecting component integrity through in-field metallography hardness testing. Removal of boat samples can provide information on changes in mechanical properties, toughness, and metallurgical conditions. These techniques are often combined with accurate defect sizing provided by advanced nondestructive evaluation. Correlation with in-service inspection and failure analysis data have brought life prediction and fitness-for-service analysis to wider acceptance by the engineering profession. The economic advantages of extending equipment life and saving time required to build replacement components have justified the use of these techniques.

The creation of this book was driven by a number of clear objectives:

  • To disseminate information on recent developments in the failure analysis field

  • To increase the number of failure case histories available in the literature

  • To expand the overall literature base of the failure analysis field

The Failure Analysis Committee of the Materials Testing & Quality Control Division of ASM International has designed this book to be a resource that can be continuously updated and expanded; it is hoped that it will eventually serve as a foundation for a failure analysis case histories computer database.

The project was initiated by a call for contributions of new, never-before-published case histories from failure analysis professionals in all industries. A special format was created that was intended to provide complete failure analysis information, including methodology, background leading to failure, test data, identification of the cause of failure, and recommendations for avoiding reoccurrence. It was emphasized that the objective of this book is to provide complete information and guidelines to professionals who seek to determine the causes of failures and how to avoid them. Our aim was not simply to compile failure cases, but instead to help solve problems.

All of the case histories in this volume have been reviewed by selected professionals in the field and by the Editors to ensure their technical accuracy, the use of correct methodology, and the reliability of their conclusions and recommendations. The case histories are grouped by industry and function to facilitate easy access and continuity. The index is designed to provide quick access to information on specific failure modes, materials, components, and so on. Each case history is preceded by an abstract that summarizes the failure analysis and its conclusions and recommendations. As an added quick reference feature, keywords are listed directly below the abstract. For ease in finding specific information in the papers, each section of the failure analysis discussion is clearly labeled in the left-hand margin. The reader can simply skim the paper to locate areas of interest. A unique characteristic of this book is that it includes information on fitness-for-service analysis using state-of-the-art fracture mechanics and life-prediction methodologies. I hope this book will assist engineers in all areas of the profession by providing sufficient technical depth and information about approaches to solving common and unusual problems that may not have been covered in previous publications.

It is unrealistic to expect one book to cover all aspects of failure analysis methodologies, failure modes, and failure documentation methods for all industries. In fact, the large number of contributions submitted for this book, coupled with size limitations, have forced us to break it into two volumes; the second volume will be published next year. The first volume contains more than 100 cases, covering failures originating from manufacturing defects, design deficiencies, misuse, and, most commonly, unexpected sources. The technical content and length of each case history vary, reflecting differences in levels of analysis, complexity of components, and the approaches used to present relevant information.

I hope this volume and the coming volumes will provide professionals in the field with a comprehensive approach to effective failure analysis. The value of this resource will increase as the series grows. This is an invitation to readers to provide comments on this volume and/or contributions of new case histories to future volumes.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge the contributions of all of the authors and reviewers; without their dedicated efforts, this book would not have been possible. Special thanks are due to my coeditors, Herman C. Burghard, George E. Kerns, and William R. Warke, for their efforts in planning, structuring, and reviewing this book. I would also like to extend special thanks to Diana Ferguson of Packer Engineering, Inc., Mary Ellen Scott of Bab-cock and Wilcox, and the editorial staff of ASM International, particularly Mary Thomas Haddad, for their assistance throughout this project. I am also grateful to my wife and children for their patience and for allowing me the time to work on this book.

Khlefa A. Esaklul
Carol Stream, Illinois
September 1992

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