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Plastic Failure Analysis & Processing Troubleshooting

Determining the exact cause of a component failure is the first step towards defining corrective action.  ipolytech have extensive experience in polymer failure analysis of products manufactured from all major thermoplastic materials over all end user sectors.

The majority of plastic component failures occur in the mid to long term.  Even in normally tough, ductile plastic materials failures are invariable brittle in nature and result in a short service life. Such brittle failures are most commonly caused by: 

  • incorrect material selection
    the use of an incorrect material for an application is a common cause of polymer failure, lack of understanding of the interaction of polymers with chemicals and environments and long term response commonly leads to premature failure.

Failure of PLastic MouldingThermal fatigue failure surface of boss used in dishwasher facia panel.Fatigue Crack in LLDPE

  • chemical & environmental interactions
    interaction of polymers with chemicals and environments can lead to degradation of racking of polymers. For many materials specific interactions with common household products can lead to rapid crazing, cracking, fracture and product failure.

  • response to long term loads
    plastic and rubber products are sensitive to long term loads. These can be either static loads through creep or fatigue mechanisms. These processes mean that the strength and stiffness of plastic components in service conditions are frequently significantly lower than quoted on a standard data sheet. A lack of understanding of the significance of the long term mechanical effects is a common cause of failure

  • processing errors
    incorrect processing of plastic materials causes failure through degradation and embrittlement process, high residual stresses, material inhomogeneity, introduction of product faults, moulding defects or contaminants

  • inappropriate design
    product design is fundamental to ensuring plastic component long term durability. incorrect design will highlight polymeric material weaknesses to long term loads, chemical environments, high speed loading, fatigue loads resulting in brittle failure of the product within a short service life.

An understanding of why a plastic product has failed requires detailed knowledge of the long term performance of polymers together with a thorough understanding of their interaction with specific service environments (chemical, temperature, stress and time).

Supported by our chemcial analysis and mechanical testing laboratories we are able to rapidly assess the cause of product failures and, importantly, recommend remedial action to minimise the risk of further failure. To discuss a specific plastic failure diagnosis please follow our ENQUIRY link..

See also our Expert Witness Services for forensic investigations for the legal and insurance professions.