Misdiagnosis and Misinterpretation
The presence of secondary, branching intergranular stress-corrosion cracking in a type 440C stainless bearing caused the analyst to overlook the real culprit, which was a mechanically-initiated, primary transgranular crack that propagated through the steel's hard chromium carbide. Failure was actually caused by overload. Had the original conclusion been accepted, a relatively exotic alloy would have been specified. In another case, brass heat exchanger tube failure was automatically attributed to attack by an acidic cleaner, and a decision was made to stop using the solution. A more thorough analysis showed failure was caused by tube vibration. In a third case, a type 304 stainless steel bellows in a test loop was thought to have failed because of chloride stress corrosion. The report concluded with a recommendation that carbon steel be used as an alternative bellows material. Caustic, not chloride, stress corrosion was the culprit. Had material substitutions been made on the original premise of countering chloride stress corrosion, most of the loop's highly stressed components would have eventually failed.