Brittle Overload Failure of Die- Cast Zinc Snowthrower Adapters
A die-cast zinc adapter used in a snowthrower failed catastrophically in a brittle overload manner. The component had a chemical composition similar to standard zinc alloy ZA-27 (UNS Z35840), although the iron content was much higher and the copper slightly lower. The mechanical properties and alloy designation were not specified. Investigation (visual inspection, 187x SEM images, unetched 30x images, hardness testing, and chemical analysis) of both the failed adapter and an exemplar casting from known-good lot supported the conclusion that the casting failed as a result of brittle overload fracture due to excessive iron-zinc phase and gross porosity. These conditions acted synergistically to reduce the strength of the material. The composition was nonstandard, and the inherent brittleness suggested that it was unlikely that this material was an intentional proprietary alloy. No recommendations were made.