Journal of Failure Analysis and Prevention

, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp 58–64 | Cite as

SEM fractography and failure analysis of nonmetallic materials

  • R. A. McCoy
Peer Reviewed Articles


This paper analyzes a collection of SEM fractographs compiled from 12 years of undergraduate and graduate level courses on fractography and failure analysis. Each nonmetallic material studied (glass, plastic, FRP, and wood) was fractured under controlled conditions so that the fracture was due mainly to one mode of loading such as tension, torsion, unidirectional bending, fatigue by reverse bending, and impact. With the aid of the stereomicroscope and the SEM, the fracture features of each sample were analyzed and fractographs obtained at a wide range of magnifications. The features and direction of crack propagation were correlated with the mode of loading which induced the fracture. From this study, correlations among the main fracture modes, micromechanisms, microfracture features, and loading conditions were compiled. Such correlations are invaluable for the proper interpretation of fracture features during failure analysis especially where little is known about the cause of the fracture.


failure analysis fiber-reinforced plastics fractography glass nonmetallic materials plastic scanning electron microscopy wood 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    R.W. Hertzberg, Deformation and Fracture Mechanics of Engineering Materials, 3rd ed., Wiley, New York, 1989, p 221Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    D.K. Felbeck and A.G. Atkins, Strength and Fracture of Engineering Solids, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1984Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    B.M. Strauss and W.H. Cullen, Ed., Fractography in Failure Analysis, ASTM Spec. Pub. 645, ASTM, Philadelphia, PA, 1978Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    B.L. Gabriel, SEM: A User’s Manual for Materials Science, American Society for Metals, 1985, p. 163Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    V.D. Frechette, Failure Analysis of Brittle Materials, American Ceramic Society, 1990Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    V.D. Frechette, Fractography and Quality Assurance of Glass and Ceramics, Quality Assurance in Ceramic Industries, V.D. Frechette, L.D. Pye, and D.E. Rase, Ed., Plenum Publishing Corp., New York, p 227, 1979Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    D.W. Richerson, Failure Analysis of Ceramics, Failure Analysis and Prevention, Vol 11, 9th ed., Metals Handbook, American Society for Metals, 1986, p 744Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    J.R. Varner, Descriptive Fractography, Ceramics and Glasses, Vol. 4, Engineered Materials Handbook, ASM International, 1991, p 635Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    L. Engel, H. Klingele, G.W. Ehrenstein, and H. Schaper, An Atlas of Polymer Damage, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1981, p 7Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    W. Brostow and R.D. Corneliussen, Ed., Failure of Plastics, Macmillan Publishing Co., New York, 1986Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    J.A. Hiltz and A.B. Mitchell, Fractography Applied to Polymeric Materials, Mater. Eng., Vol. 105, July 1988, p 49Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    J.G. Williams, Fracture Mechanics of Polymers, Halsted Press, New York, 1984Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    A. Moet, Failure Analysis of Polymers, Failure Analysis and Prevention, Vol 11, 9th ed., Metals Handbook, American Society for Metals, 1986, p 758Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    I.M.R. Piggott, Load Bearing Fiber Composites, Pergamon, Oxford, 1980Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    I.K.K. Chawla, Composite Materials, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1987Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    I.R. Grove and B. Smith, “Compendium for Composite Materials,” AFWAL-TR-86-4137, Air Force Wright Aeronautical Labs, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    I.B.D. Agarwal, Analysis and Performance of Fiber Composites, Wiley, New York, 1990Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    I.B.W. Smith and R.A. Grove, Failure Analysis of Continuous Fiber Reinforced Composites, Failure Analysis and Prevention, Vol 11, 9th ed., Metals Handbook, American Society for Metals, 1986, p 731Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    I.R.A. Flinn and P.K. Trojan, Engineering Materials and Their Applications, 4th ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA, 1990, p 703Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    W.M. Harlow, Inside Wood: Masterpiece of Nature, American Forestry Assoc., 1970Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    B.A. Meylan and B.G. Butterfield, Three-Dimensional Structure of Wood: A Scanning Electron Microscope Study, Chapman & Hall, London, 1972Google Scholar

Copyright information

© ASM International 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. A. McCoy

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations