Failure Analysis

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

While 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 cause of failures. We also offer support with corrective analysis and can conduct a hazard analysis and identify any critical control points.

Investigation of rubber and polymer product failures
Rubber and polymer product failures can be costly, both financially and with regards to market perception. 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.

Independent expert failure investigation services
Our team has an in-depth understanding of rubber and polymer behavior, failure modes and mechanisms as well as how rubber products and components perform in service. With over 100 years of combined rubber and polymer industry background, 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 work with a client to reduce the risk of further failure.

Our services include:

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

Common products that we analyze include (but are not limited to):

  • Tires
  • Seals and gaskets
  • Hoses and tubing
  • Rubber linings
  • Industrial rubber components
  • Flexible couplings
  • Valve linings
  • Expansion bellows
  • Medical devices

Once the root cause has been identified, we are able to provide additional support depending on your requirements. We can assist with material specification optimization, material selection and custom compound development in order to reduce the risk of recurring rubber or polymer 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 undertaken thousands of polymer and rubber failure investigations, including rubber, plastics, TPEs, composites, adhesives, coatings and paint systems. 

For guidance with rubber or polymer failures please get in touch with our featured experts.

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. 

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For guidance with rubber or plastic product failures, please get in touch with our featured experts.