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Material Failure

Last updated: July 10, 2018

What Does Material Failure Mean?

A failure is a breakdown of an object (such as metal, concrete or plastic) due to various factors that affect the strength, stability and chemical composition of the object's structure. Reasons for failure include:

  • Corrosion
  • Erosion
  • Fatigue
  • Stress corrosion cracking
  • Cavitation
  • Galling
  • Fretting
  • Foreign object damage

Corrosionpedia Explains Material Failure

A metallurgical failure analysis is sometimes performed when a metal object fails. Metallurgists and engineers work to find the reasons and mechanisms that caused the failure in the material. In many cases corrosion and mechanical failure are found to be the primary reasons for failure.

Failures can be of two types:

  • Brittle failure - Brittle failure refers to the breakage of a material due to a sudden fracture. When a brittle failure occurs, the material breaks suddenly instead of deforming or straining under load. The fracturing or breaking can occur with only a small amount of load, impact force or shock.
  • Ductile failure - A ductile failure is a type of failure seen in malleable materials characterized by extensive plastic deformation or necking. This usually occurs prior to the actual failure of the material. In ductile failure, there is absorption of massive amounts of energy and slow propagation before the fracture occurs.

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