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This article briefly introduces the concepts of failure analysis, including root-cause analysis (RCA), and the role of failure analysis as a general engineering tool for enhancing product quality and failure prevention. It initially provides definitions of failure on several different levels, followed by a discussion on the role of failure analysis and the appreciation of quality assurance and user expectations. Systematic analysis of equipment failures reveals physical root causes that fall into one of four fundamental categories: design, manufacturing/installation, service, and material, which are discussed in the following sections along with examples. The tools available for failure analysis are...

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