Glossary of Terms

The following Glossary provides clarification for technical terms used in our reports.  This list was developed to enhance communication and understanding of specific materials characteristics and conditions.  We encourage you to contact us any time for assistance with your project.

Failure Analysis Glossary Terms 

  • Abrasive Wear (Failure Mechanism) - material removal as a result of another material moving along the surface with a load.  

  • Adhesive Wear (Failure Mechanism) - wear and material loss resulting from two materials sliding against each other as a result of localized bonding.

  • Anneal (Heat Treating Process) - a process by which a material (usually metal or glass) is allowed to cool slowly to relieve internal stresses.  Rate of cooling affects final material properties.

  • Bend Test - a material evaluation test where the force to bend a material in a certain orientation is measured.  

  • Brinell Hardness Testing - a technique to evaluate the indentation hardness of a material using a round ball indenter.  This method is best for very coarse materials, or materials with rougher surfaces.  

  • Carbonitriding - a surface modificaiton process by which carbon and nitrogen atoms are diffused into the surface of a metal to increase the material's surface hardness.

  • Corrosion - a chemical or electrochemical process by which a material is deteriorated as a result of reacting with its environment.  

  • Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) - a material evaluation method in which materials can be identified based on how they react to electrons.  See our SEM page

  • Fatigue (Failure Mechanism) -  a process by which a material fails due to repeated and continuous wear. 

  • Fracture Toughness - a material property that represents the amount a stress a material can handle before a pre-existing flaw (i.e. crack) propogates (grows).  

  • Hydrogen Embrittlement (Failure Mechanism) - or "Hydrogen Assisted Cracking (HAC), a process by which hydrogen atoms are absorbed by a material and leads to embrittlement and failure at a lower tensile strength. 

  • Metallography - a material evaluation technique to analyze a metal by evaluating its physical components, such as microstructure, using visual techniques (microscopy). 

  • Microstructure - the structure of material at a microscopic level, usually under a microscope at the nm-cm scale.  At this level, you can usually see the grains structure of a metal, or the arrangement of phases and defects of the material.  Miscrostructure can reveal processing and composition history of a metal. 

  • Residual Stress - built up stress in a material, whether as a result of heat treatments or other physical events. 

  • Rockwell Hardness Test - Another indentation hardness technique, where the indenter is either a conical diamond or a steel ball depending on the scale used. 

  • Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) - a microscope that utilizes electrons to "see" materials at extremely high magnification.  See our SEM page

  • Tensile Testing - a test method that obtains material property information about a material by pulling on test bar (usually of a standardized size) vertically at a steady rate until failure.  The behavior of the material during the test reveals tensile strength, yield strength, elongation to break, and modulus of a material, along with implications of other properties. 

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