Failure Analysis: Some Introductory Articles and Textbooks

A recent post to sci.materials asked for recommendations of
introductory texts on failure analysis. Here's my two cents.
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:
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A longer (49 page) report by R. A. Page is "Guidelines for Forensic
Analysis of Failed Parts"
It can be found at:
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If you have more time than money, you should visit your friendly
neighborhood engineering library and browse a textbook or two. Then
you can buy a textbook.
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.
There are several other good textbooks. The most recent is Arthur J.
McEvily's Metal Failures: Mechanisms, Analysis, Prevention (John Wiley
& Sons, New York, 2002). One caution with this book - on page 223 you
will find the term "laminar tearing", which should be lamellar
tearing. (I suspect the spell checker demons were at work here!)
Two other good books are D. R. H. Jone's Engineering Materials 3
(Materials Failure Analysis: Case Studies and Design Implications),
and C.R. Brooks and A. Choudhury's Metallurgical Failure Analysis
(McGraw Hill, Inc., 1993).
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
Cleveland.
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. Students who think they
wouldn't do dumb things should read Henry Petroski's article on the
Texas A&M Bonfire collapse at:
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Pittsburgh Pete
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Pittsburgh Pete
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