Failure Analysis of Polymer and Rubber Components

SPECTRO ANALYTICAL LABS LTD. is a leading independent consulting, engineering, and testing lab specializing in the fields of failure analysis, corrosion, metallurgical engineering, concrete analysis, coatings, Polymer & Rubber failure analysis.

SPECTRO's team of experienced professionals is fully qualified to investigate the causes of material failures. We also provide technical analysis, investigative research and development.

Failure analysis of components is critical to the environment and application to determine the root cause of a failure

Determination of the root cause of failure of systems or components can be very complex, and may require multidisciplinary testing and analysis. The first requirement for success is having a full-equipped modern laboratory.

SPECTRO's labs include light and electron microscopy, mechanical and electrochemical testing, chemical characterization, and fracture mechanics analysis capabilities.

Failures can range from the following basic causes.

  • Manufacturing Issues
  • Damage during Installation
  • Unexpected Service Conditions
  • Out of Dimensional Tolerances
  • Out of Customers Specifications
  • Incorrect Design
  • Processing Issues
  • Material Issues
  • Product Misuse

To more advance range of failures as seen in rubber to metal or plastic parts can have a more complex root cause. In these types of applications the root cause can be more than one the above listed along with the following:

  • Surface contamination
  • Chemistry of failed layer
  • Poor primer or adhesive
  • Overheating of adhesive or primer

The techniques typically used in the laboratory for failure analysis

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometers record the interaction of infrared radiation (light) with experimental samples, measuring the frequencies at which the sample absorbs the radiation and the intensities of the absorptions.

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) is used to determine the melt range and other thermal properties of polymers, which comprise the majority of binder for organic coatings and paints.

Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA) is used to determine the weight loss w.r.to temperature and compositional analysis.

Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) instrument represents a device that separates chemical mixtures, primarily organic mixtures, (the GC component)

The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a microscope that uses electrons rather than light to form an image. There are many advantages to using the SEM as an adjunct to the optical (light) microscope.

Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) systems are used in the characterization of materials through the use of ionizing radiation to excite a sample.

Accelerated environmental exposure tests, such as salt spray (fog) tests, humidity tests, and ultraviolet light (QUV) exposure tests can help to confirm the proposed failure mechanism of a painted or coated substrate sample.

Physical testing provides important characteristics of a paint or coating specimen which may reveal primary causes for the failure. Important physical tests include thickness testing, pin hole testing, adhesion testing, determination of the plane of delamination, hardness testing, surface roughness (profile) testing, Tensile and flexural characteristics.

Analysis of the evidence, and a review of the existing data and documentation are the final stages of failure investigation. All information is gathered and analyzed to form a determination on the mode and probable cause of the failure. Identification of the mode and cause of failure provide the source for recommendations for corrective action.

A final report including all relevant data, analyses, and recommendations are compiled and presented to the client.