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Distortion failure occurs when a structure or component is deformed so that it can no longer support the load it was intended to carry. Every structure has a load limit beyond which it is considered unsafe or unreliable. Estimation of load limits is an important aspect of design and is commonly computed by classical design or limit analysis. This article discusses the common aspects of failure by distortion with suitable examples. Analysis of a distortion failure often must be thorough and rigorous to determine the root cause of failure and to specify proper corrective action. The article summarizes the general process of distortion failure analysis. It also discusses three types of distortion failures that provide useful insights into the problems of analyzing unusual mechanisms of distortion. These include elastic distortion, ratcheting, and inelastic cyclic buckling.

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