From failure prevention to failure diagnosis and root cause identification, we provide comprehensive support for product and material failure.

Whilst polymer based materials are extremely versatile materials, they are not without their limitations. To reduce the likelihood of product failure, designers and engineers need to understand:

  • The fundamental nature of rubber and plastics
  • The specific limitations of the specific rubber or plastic chosen for their project
  • Failure modes of the rubber or plastic, including consideration for the intended end-use environment of the product or component

Smithers Rapra provides consultative insight - supported by materials testing and analysis - to identify the root causes of failures. We also offer support with corrective analysis and can conduct a hazard analysis and identify any critical control points.

Plastic Failure  Rubber Failure

Plastic Failure

Independent analysis to understand the true causes of product failure
With extensive polymer knowledge and industry experience, Smithers Rapra will always consider the many potential variables which can influence rubber and plastic properties, however insignificant they may seem. Failure in polymeric products and materials can have many root causes. Some failures are a combination of causes, such as poor processing coupled with poor selection of material for the end use.

Our Failure Analysis Polymer Services include:

  • Rapid and unbiased failure assessment of products / materials
  • Failure identification of the probable cause (read more about how we can help with Root Cause Identification)
  • Remedial recommendations for  corrective actions to minimise the risk of further failure
  • Recommendations for improvement for the device, component or structure performance
  • Independent failure investigation if responsibility is not admitted
    • Including Expert Witness support

We have a dedicated team of polymer specialists with over 50 years of field experience. Our team have a fundamental understanding of polymer behaviour, how polymer products and parts perform in service, extensive experience of failure modes and a practical appreciation of design and processing.

We have undertaken tens of thousands of polymer and rubber failure investigations, including plastics, TPEs, fibre, adhesives, coatings and paint systems. 

All consultative guidance is supported by comprehensive testing facilities
Our ISO 17025 accredited facilities are on-hand to support any failure investigation with an extensive range of testing and analytical services. Our experts are able to:

  • Fully characterise polymer composition and mechanical performance to rapidly assess the cause of failure
  • Recommend corrective actions to minimise the risk of further failure
  • Suggest performance improvements for the device, component or structure

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For guidance with plastic failure please get in touch with our featured plastics expert.

Rubber and Elastomer Failure

Investigation of Rubber Products and Components Failure
Rubber and elastomer failure can be costly, both financially and with regards to market perception. Whereas some failures occur as a result of a combination of causes, many are due to inappropriate material selection for the intended use of the product.

Independent expert Failure Investigation services
Our team has an in-depth understanding of rubber polymer behaviour, failure modes and mechanisms and how rubber products and components perform in service. With rubber industry backgrounds, they also have a practical appreciation of processing and design.

Smithers Rapra provides diagnostic insight into why a rubber product or component has failed with an independent assessment that identifies the most probable cause of failure. We can also offer remedial support, and can work with a client to reduce the risk of further failure.

Our service includes:

  • Rapid and independent assessment of underperforming products.
  • Expert identification of most probable cause of failures.
  • Assess to extensive microscopy, analytical and mechanical testing facilities with capabilities to fully characterise the material in terms of composition, cure level and mechanical performance.
  • Recommendation of remedial corrective actions to eliminate or minimise the risk of further problems, and if possible improve the component or material performance.

Our experts have a wealth of experience in rubber and elastomer failure investigation with an in-depth understanding of:

  • Rubber polymer behaviour
  • Failure modes and mechanisms
  • How rubber products and components perform when in-service
  • Processing and design

Common rubber products we undertake failure analysis on include:

  • Seals and gaskets
  • Hoses
  • Tyres
  • Rubber linings
  • Medical implants
  • Industrial rubber components
  • Flexible couplings
  • AV mounts
  • Valve linings
  • Expansion bellows

We can help prevent future failures
Once the root cause has been identified, we are able to provide additional support depending on your requirements. We can assist with material specification optimisation, material selection and custom compound development in order to reduce the risk of recurring rubber failure.  

Expert Witness Support
Following a failure investigation, our experts are also able to provide a comprehensive expert witness service. As an independent third-party, our team can be called upon for support at every stage of the dispute process. 

We have reported on thousands of rubber failure investigations and can deliver a rapid and independent assessment of under-performing products and identify the most probable cause of failure.

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For guidance with rubber failure please get in touch with our featured rubbers expert.