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Some 99.90 pure tin tubes (0.15 mm thick) used for packaging a chemical compound cracked on bending and underwent brittle fracture prior to filling, while others remained ductile and showed no sign of failure. Examination showed that specimens prepared by mechanical methods such as electrolytic and hand polishing and the vibration method resulted in poor edge and crack edge definition due to material thickness. Etching experiments involved a grain surface attack and hence produced a rather strong surface relief from which the grain boundary cracks could again not clearly be differentiated. The sections were therefore examined unetched in polarized light. The microstructure of the cracked tubes was shown to have much smaller grains than the ductile and showed cracks from the surface down along the grain boundaries. Material hardness also differed between the unusable tubes and the ductile, and chemical analysis showed a higher level of aluminum in the brittle specimens. Failure obviously occurred due to the high material aluminum content that increased hardness which then caused embrittlement at the surface which led to cracks or fracture on bending. Since no explanation of how the aluminum entered the tin was available, no recommendations could be made.

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Karin Dieser, 2019. "Fracture of 99.90 Pure Tin Tubes", ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Chemical Processing Equipment

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