Rejecting Productive Liability in the Automotive Industry

failure analysis Automotive Industry

Image Credit: NETZSCH-Gerätebau GmbH

During 2018, motor vehicles were involved in 19% of all product recalls, as listed by the Rapid Alert database. Throughout the automotive industry, product failures occurring recently include the fracture and leakage of fuel tanks due to flaws in the manufacturing process. Therefore, it is vital to identify any element of failure that can result from either material-, design-, or production-related causes. Four thermal analysis instruments can provide the answers to such questions.

Only the recall of toys surpassed that of motor vehicles as listed by the Rapid Alert database in 2018. The database was assembled by the European Union to enable the rapid exchange of all relevant information between authorities across the EU on goods and products deemed dangerous. This means that appropriate measures can be taken to remove dangerous products from the market.

Product recalls of plastic items often originate from design-, material- or production-related faults. As mentioned previously, the recent product failures and recalls in the automotive industry concern the fracture and leakage of fuel tanks due to errors in the production process, the evaporation of fuel due to unsound petrol caps, and deficient plastic brush holders that may prevent the brake booster pump motor from working properly.

Fight off Product Liability and Compensation Claims

Such product recalls in the automotive industry come at a great cost due to a company’s reputation as well as fiscal endeavor being placed on the line. Often requiring the creation of a crisis team as well the withdrawal of the product from market, the costs mount as the notification of customers will also mean a great expense. Furthermore, other costs, such as potential lawsuits for product liability and resulting compensation, markedly increases the total expenses of a recall, resulting from the failure of a plastic component.

To minimize the costs and ensure the resulting impact on the company is as low as possible, a great effort is required to effectively identify the cause of failure of the plastic component and, therefore, the responsible party. An accurate and efficient analysis is vital when searching for the cause of failure.

Analysis is Key in Finding the Cause of Failure!

The purpose of failure analysis is the detection of the root cause of failure, which can be likened to assembling the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Reasons for flawed components can include creep rupture, brittle fractures, environmental stress cracking, molecular degradation ductile overload, and fatigue. It is not usually any single factor that affects the performance of a plastic component, but rather a range of imperfections in the material, design, and manufacturing process of a part. Therefore, a scientific approach and broad expertise of polymer materials are necessary for the evaluation of how and why a part failed.

Get Answers from Four Thermal Analysis Instruments

During comprehensive analysis, some of the questions that arise are:

  • Was the component produced from the right material?
  • Is the material properly cured?
  • Did the material become brittle?

Four thermal analysis instruments can provide illuminative insights when approaching such questions.

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) determines if the molded plastic component can maintain the requisite properties over the service temperature range. The loss of stiffness of a molded part that comes into contact with any liquid can be accurately measured.

Thermomechanical Analysis (TMA) enables clear assessment of any residual stress in the molded component. Furthermore, the method can identify the expansion and shrinkage of parts due to temperature differences.

Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) and Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) highlight the material composition of a molded plastic part and can also reveal if any material degradation was caused by a faulty share of stabilizers etc.

References and Further Reading

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by NETZSCH-Gerätebau GmbH.

For more information on this source, please visit NETZSCH-Gerätebau GmbH.

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