Stainless steel is known for its corrosion resistance in many environments, with different alloys having different levels of corrosion resistance. Also, stainless steels are available with a wide range of strengths. Understanding the reasons for the corrosion resistance is helpful for selecting alloys based on the required strength and environment to which the steel will be exposed.[Read more…]
Metals Engineering and Product ReliabilityThe topics should be of interest to product design engineers. I’ll write about topics related to the metals engineering perspective to component design and metallurgical aspects of component reliability.
Fatigue cracks that originate at inclusions. Stainless steel intergranular corrosion due to chromium carbide precipitates. Low steel toughness because martensite not tempered enough. Low aluminum strength because of excessive grain boundary precipitation. Orange peel due to large grains.
These are examples of how problems with a metal’s microstructure lead to reliability and performance problems. Of course, there are thousands of examples of microstructures that lead to good reliability and good performance.
One hurdle to understanding metallurgy is being able to think small – very small. Less than a millimeter. Less than a micron. And sometimes on the scale of atoms.[Read more…]
When designing components consider fatigue or stress corrosion cracking. It’s important to be cognizant of the residual stresses in the component. Understanding residual pressure and its sources is important when making decisions about a component’s shape, features, alloy, and fabrication process.
Fatigue and stress corrosion cracking require the presence of tensile stresses on a component. When residual presures are tensile they add to the applied tensile pressure, reducing the life of a component. In fact, components sometimes fail due to stress corrosion cracking when residual stress is the only source of tensile stress.[Read more…]
One failure mechanism that I’m frequently asked about is hydrogen embrittlement of carbon and low-alloy steel. So, in this article I’ll discuss that topic.
Hydrogen embrittlement is the result of the absorption of hydrogen by susceptible metals resulting in the loss of ductility and reduction of load bearing capability. Sustained stress on an embrittled material can result in cracking and fracture at stresses less than the metal’s yield strength.[Read more…]
In a recent Accendo podcast, Chris Jackson and Fred Schenkelberg discussed who is responsible for producing a reliable product, which included designers and suppliers. I’m going to weigh in.
The reliability of any product depends on the reliability of the individual components and joints within the product. That is, the ability of the components and joints to withstand exposure to stressors without degrading to the point that they fail, resulting in the product no longer performing as required. Stressors, which include corrosion conditions, fatigue, and wear, were discussed in an earlier article.
Whether individual components and joints have the reliability required boils down to two basic aspects of engineering – selection and control. The appropriate form (i.e. shape, dimensions, features) and materials for components and joints must be selected during product design. Then, systems must be put in place to control fabrication of components and joints, ensuring their form and materials are as specified. This will enable the components and joints to consistently meet performance and reliability requirements.
So, who’s responsible for this selection and control?[Read more…]
Metal strength and fracture toughness are important mechanical properties for components exposed to fatigue conditions and components with stress concentrations. Optimization of the two properties through alloy selection and component fabrication must be considered when designing components for these situations.
For structural components, strength and fracture toughness are two important mechanical properties. Yield strength is the stress a metal can withstand before deforming. Tensile strength is the maximum stress a metal can support before starting to fracture. Fracture toughness is the energy required to cause a material that contains a crack to fracture.[Read more…]
Here’s an example of how a metallurgical failure analysis led to identification of the root cause of a failure, and to identification of the corrective actions needed to prevent the failures from recurring.
As I discussed in my previous article, metallurgical failure analysis can be used to improve product reliability. The information from failure analysis of a failed component is used to determine the root cause of the failure. Once the root cause is identified, the failure analysis data and findings is used to help identify the corrective measures required to prevent the failure from recurring.[Read more…]
Failures during product testing and use are a fact of life. Even with the most robust design we can develop an overly aggressive reliability test or find users that dish out punishing treatment, causing product failures. And for designs that are less robust, standard reliability tests and normal users will cause failures, occasionally or frequently depending on the design robustness.
When a product fails, its related to failure of individual components and/or joints between components. When a component or joint fails, it’s because their materials degraded to the point that the component or joint could no longer perform as required.[Read more…]
Any product is an assembly of components comprised of different materials. The reliability of the product depends on the reliability of the materials – their ability to withstand exposure to the use conditions without degrading to the point that the component or joint stops performing as needed.
There are two approaches for evaluating the reliability of materials: 1) product testing and 2) materials testing. Both involve exposing test samples to actual or simulated use conditions and evaluating the response of the test samples as a function of the amount of exposure to the test conditions. For example, exposure to thermal cycling between -40 and +40 °C or exposure to salt spray. [Read more…]
In the previous article I discussed sources of stressors that can cause degradation of the materials in components and joints. In this article I’ll discuss the basics of metal corrosion – the electrochemical cell, seven common forms of corrosion, and examples of metals engineering and mechanical design approaches to control corrosion.
In the previous articles I discussed the component design process, the considerations for designing components, and the importance of leveraging materials engineering to design components that meet performance and reliability requirements at low cost.
I will start focusing on reliability, discussing the considerations for identifying component and joint reliability requirements. I will refer only to components for ease of writing and reading, but the discussion also applies to metallurgical joints, i.e. weld, braze, and solder joints.
In this article, I will discuss identification of the conditions that can cause degradation of the materials that comprise components and joints. [Read more…]
In the previous article I discussed product design in general and the importance of leveraging materials engineering to design components that meet performance and reliability requirements at low cost. Both component form and materials can and should be engineered to optimize a component’s design.
In this article I discuss a component design process that explicitly includes materials engineering considerations. This process involves consideration of all design requirements and cost. Not just designing for reliability. That’s where selecting materials gets tricky – having to consider different sets of requirements and design for ease of component fabrication and joining.
This article is the first in a series about material engineering and product reliability. The intent of the article is to provide you with a basic understanding of product reliability as viewed through the eyes of a material engineer. When I first talk to engineers who have a different background or focus, I start with the basics. As we speak more, I expand into relevant areas one at a time. That is what I hope to do with this series. Introduce you to some basics, and then move on to a deeper dive into the topic.
When considering product reliability, a materials engineer is concerned with how the materials in components respond when exposed to stressors that can cause the materials to degrade. Stressors include mechanical loads, corrosive environments, chemicals, heat and cold, electricity, and radiation. You may find additional stressors based on the environment components are used in, or how they are used. It’s a problem if a component or joint in a product degrades to the point where it stops functioning as required.