The first step of every failure analysis is a visual inspection. As a rule, each damage mechanism leaves behind characterstic traces which, in turn, through their identification allow the underlying mechanism(s) to be deduced. For example, when inspecting fracture faces it is possible to differentiate between fractures caused by fatigue and overload and, with knowledge of the material properties, to simultaneously deduce the loading conditions.
In tribological systems different wear mechanisms, for example adhesive wear, abrasive wear, and surface breakdown are present.
In some cases, rolling element fatigue will cause these to present as distinct forms of flaking.
Inspections are carried out both in the laboratory, aided by microscopy as necessary, and in the field. On-site inspections are especially important for larger machines.They offer the addtional benefit of allowing environmental conditions to be identified and can offer important insights into the source of the damage that would not be evident from a laboratory analysis of only the damaged part.
We also offer endoscopy to support on-site inspections.