A recent post asked for recommendations of introductory texts.
If you have time but no money you should download some articles.
A nice short one by Neville Sachs is "Root Cause Failure Analysis -
Understanding Mechanical Failures" and can be found at:
A longer (49 page) report by R. A. Page is "Guidelines for Forensic
Analysis of Failed Parts" It can be found at:
If you have more time than money, you should buy and read a textbook
or two. If you are near an engineering library, go and look at some
texts before you buy.
Probably the best introductory textbook on failure analysis is
Understanding How Components Fail, by Donald J. Wulpi and published by
ASM International (2nd edition, 1999). Wulpi used to run the lab at
International Harvester's truck division. He writes from the
perspective of a practicing engineer rather than a materials
scientist (college professor) like many of the other texts.
If you have more money than time, then you might instead consider
taking the ASM online course on Principles of Failure Analysis for
$395. If you have both lots of money and time, then you can take a
whole week to do the ASM course at Materials Park in suburban
The standard reference book is the ASM Handbook (formerly Metals
Handbook) volume on Failure Analysis and Prevention. There are three
editions, a new green one (Volume 11, 2002), the older red one (9th
edition, Volume 11, 198x), and the oldest blue one (8th edition,
Volume 10, 1975). The older two include large sections of case
histories of manufactured components and assemblies. The new one is
more of an advanced textbook; it omits the case histories, since ASM
has more recently published a two volume set of Handbook of Case
Histories in Failure Analysis. Used copies of the old blue Metals
Handbook occasionally show up used for reasonable prices (check eBay
Failures often are caused by factors than what you might expect. For
a taste of what can go wrong in the real world, see Trevor A. Kletz's
book, What Went Wrong? Case Histories of Process Plant Disasters, Gulf
Publishing Co., Houston, 2nd edition 1988.
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