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Compared to metals, the subjects of polymer science and engineering, product design, manufacturing, and failure analysis are still relatively young. Since their inception, various texts, journal articles, and trade magazines have attempted to keep up with the ever-growing body of information related to these subjects. Failure analysis alone is a rapidly expanding field, with new tools, techniques, and understandings of the effect of the environment on the performance of a polymer or polymeric components being routinely developed. ASM International published ASM Handbook, Volume 11, Failure Analysis and Prevention, in 2021 to address the developments in the failure analysis field. However, the complexity and volume of information specific to polymers had reached a point at which ASM recognized the need to address the focal points of the plastics field in its own, wholly new Volume.

ASM Handbook, Volume 11B, Characterization and Failure Analysis of Plastics was developed for the express purpose of gathering and summarizing the information contained in the field of failure analysis of polymeric components and devices and placing it in one, common location. The articles contained within this Volume were authored by experts spanning academia, manufacturing, research and development, and consulting, and encompass, to various degrees of specificity, the accumulation of knowledge in the field. The Volume is divided into seven sections:

  • Polymer Science

  • Chemical, Thermal, and Physical Analysis of Plastics

  • Mechanical Behavior and Testing of Plastics

  • Degradation Mechanisms of Plastics

  • Material Selection and Design with Engineering Plastics

  • Failure Analysis of Plastics

  • Analysis and Prevention of Plastic Product Failures

Each of these sections contains articles specific to its given topic, with each section building upon the information presented in the previous sections. Understanding each of these fundamental topics is crucial to the accuracy and success of the failure analysis process. The articles were designed to be stand-alone information sources. Whether the reader is a novice attempting to learn the entirety of the process, or a skilled and experienced individual hoping to glean specific information about a given topic, this Volume provides that service. However, not all tips and techniques can be gathered and summarized in even a large Volume such as 11B, and it must be understood that the failure analysis process is iterative. Note also that the skill level of any practitioner is directly related to the experience that individual has performing a failure analysis. Each failure analyst will develop their own style, but the understanding of the complexity of each analysis will be dependent upon the ability of that individual to utilize the available information, know which information is missing and needs to be found, and summarize and conclude their findings in a concise, objective manner. The information presented in this Volume, though not a replacement for experience, serves as a crucial foundation of the failure analyst’s body of knowledge needed to conduct thorough, decisive analyses.

As is apparent from reading this Volume, no single editor or author is responsible for the entire book. I am extremely thankful to each of the many authors, reviewers, section editors, and researchers who assisted in the development of this Volume. Your tireless efforts have finally paid off.


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