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Accreditations

We are a cGMP and NQA-1 compliant laboratory also holding accreditations from AIHA, NVLAP, ASCLD/LAB-International, and several state environmental health agencies.

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Failure Analysis

Failure Analysis

RJ Lee Group experts undertake failure analysis to identify the root cause at all stages of a product life cycle and provide a remedial plan of action.

We apply our unique industrial forensics approach to your project, which assures you that every step in the process, from material selection to the final product, is being investigated. Once we discover the root cause, we relay your results so that you thoroughly understand how and why your component or product failed. We will also recommend both corrective and preventive actions to reduce future risk of failure and optimize performance.

RJ Lee Group’s experts undertake industrial forensic inquiry into failed components, products, or systems. Our failure analysis specialties include metallurgical, electronic device, concrete, and specialty chemicals and coatings.

Metallurgical Failure Analysis

In a world built from glass, steel, and concrete, when an essential metal component like the gear tooth in a jet engine fails because of corrosion, or when metal fatigue weakens a component on an amusement park ride, results can be disastrous or even catastrophic. RJ Lee Group performs comprehensive metallurgical failure analysis to determine not only the root cause of failure but also to help prevent the failure from repeating by recommending corrective action.

As our client, you benefit from RJ Lee Group’s decades of experience in performing the steps needed to identify the root cause of failure for metal components at any scale, from macrostructure to microstructure. Our investigative techniques range from a basic and thorough visual overview to examination of surface cracks and fractures to using advanced instrumentation to study the structure and chemical composition. This progression of phased techniques provides you with the answers to determining if corrosion, stress, or a combination of both, was responsible for failure; if a welded joint was subject to processing defects; or if the proper materials were used during fabrication. Using these techniques, we are able to evaluate failures that occur at any part of the product life cycle, such as inclusions during casting, fractures during forming, or environmental effects on the finished product.

Whether you require metallurgical failure analysis for problems related to product development, process, or manufacturing, or for performance concerns that may negatively impact a company’s reputation or cause a company to lose revenue, we have the expertise you need to determine the root cause and suggest corrective actions.

  • Delamination Problem Requires Multi-Layered Approach

    RJ Lee Group investigated the cause of the delamination of acoustic fireproofing attached to steel beams in public facilities. After thoroughly investigating samples from many locations, we identified the material issues and recommended remediation solutions as well as modifications to future product applications.

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  • Exemplar Comparison Eliminates Aircraft Engine as Cause of Fatal Accident

    In an effort to determine if mechanical failure may have contributed to the cause of a fatal airplane crash, an airplane engine manufacturer retained RJ Lee Group to examine components of the 30-year old engine involved in the accident.

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  • Alloy Depletion and Martensite Formation During Glass-to-Metal Joining of Austenitic Stainless Steels

    In this publication, the authors discuss the potential detrimental ramifications of bulk composition, surface depletion, and phase transformations on glass-to-metal sealed austenitic stainless steels.

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  • Material Failures: The Importance of Validating First Impressions

    When investigating a failure to make a root cause determination, visual inspections of the failed part are useful, but sometimes first impressions can be misleading. This paper presents lessons from multiple failure analysis case studies in which the discovered root causes were not immediately obvious.

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  • The Influence of Molybdenum on Stainless Steel Weld Microstructures

    A loss of corrosion resistance and solidification cracking can often occur during fusion welding of superaustenitic stainless steel alloys. These issues can result in metallurgical failures. The authors present a method of producing austenitic welds that can potentially circumvent these issues.

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  • Jim Pellegrino failure analysis expert

    Jim Pellegrino

    Mr. Jim Pellegrino is an expert incorporating over 40 years of experience in performing failure analysis on metallurgical components and specializes in the fields of metallography, fractography and failure/fracture analysis using optical and scanning electron microscopy. Mr. Pellegrino has served as an expert witness for many cases and has testified in cases in criminal, common pleas, and federal courts.

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  • Keith E. Wagner failure analysis expert

    Keith E. Wagner

    Mr. Keith Wagner is an expert in failure analysis, with specialties in performing analysis of metallic joining techniques of materials and electronics used in consumer, commercial and military applications. Mr. Wagner has served as an expert witness on a number of cases.

    Connect with Keith E. Wagner
  • Matthew J. Perricone, Ph.D. failure analysis expert

    Matthew J. Perricone, Ph.D.

    Dr. Matthew J. Perricone serves as a Principal Investigator at RJ Lee Group, directing and performing root cause failure analysis for projects addressing areas such as manufacturing quality assurance, warranty, insurance, and product liability claims.  Dr. Perricone has been accepted as an expert witness in Corrosion and Materials Science in U.S. District Court and has testified in multiple cases.

    Connect with Matthew J. Perricone, Ph.D.

Electronic Device Failure Analysis

What happens when a process line stops due to the failure of a single device or if an electronic component in a certain vehicle model fails and drivers lose function of critical control systems?  These sorts of failures can significantly impact a company’s bottom line. The process of analyzing such failures requires someone who has the expertise to identify not only how an electronic device failed, but also to determine why the device failed to prevent the failure from recurring.  However, the level of difficulty in determining root cause of failure is increasing rapidly with decreasing feature sizes due to microelectronics being manufactured at the nano scale thus requiring processes to become increasingly complex.  RJ Lee Group’s experts understand the devices and technologies employed in modern consumer products and commercial systems and can analyze your raw materials and provide process- and service-related electronic device failure analysis from the board level to the device level.

Since our experts have been performing electronic device investigations for nearly 30 years, you are assured that appropriate instrumentation and techniques will be applied to perform root cause failure analysis on your device or evaluate your processing problems.  We use advanced sample preparation techniques and instrumentation to perform destructive physical and compositional analysis using SEM, TEM, and optical microscopy to identify metallization, thin film, and circuit issues. SEM, XPS, and FTIR can be employed to characterize residual surface films that can lead to failures by creating short circuits and leakage paths.  When failures occur RJ Lee Group can provide the assistance you need with access to a comprehensive array of analytical instrumentation and many years of direct experience working on electronic processing and operational failure investigations.

  • Capacitor Testing Provides Data for Possible Patent Infringement

    RJ Lee Group received several de-mounted multi-layer ceramic SMT capacitors for examination. The devices were involved in a patent infringement case dealing with device design and the electrical properties of the insulator material.

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  • Scanning Electron Microscopy Cathodoluminescence Studies of Piezoelectric Fields in an InGaN Quantum-Well Light Emitting Diode

    InGaN-based light emitting diodes (LEDs) and laser diodes (LDs) have great commercial potential due to their ability of working in the short wavelength region, which has up to now been inaccessible for LED and LD technologies. The active region of these devices in which the light is being generated is an InGaN-based quantum well. By improving our understanding of these mechanisms, it is possible to improve the structural design, and with it, the performance of the devices.

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  • Keith E. Wagner failure analysis expert

    Keith E. Wagner

    Mr. Keith Wagner is an expert in failure analysis, with specialties in performing analysis of metallic joining techniques of materials and electronics used in consumer, commercial and military applications. Mr. Wagner has served as an expert witness on a number of cases.

    Connect with Keith E. Wagner
  • Kristin L. Bunker, Ph.D. failure analysis expert

    Kristin L. Bunker, Ph.D.

    Dr. Kristin Bunker is Senior Scientist at RJ Lee Group with over 15 years of experience in the failure analysis of electronic devices, materials science and analytical instrumentation. Other areas that contribute to Dr. Bunker’s expertise include industrial problem solving in the micro-electronics, nanotechnology and biomedical industries as it relates to manufacturing processes and materials interaction.

    Connect with Kristin L. Bunker, Ph.D.

Failure Analysis Lab

Like a detective at a crime scene, our experts begin by surveying the failed part(s) using our most readily available tool — the eye — to determine how to proceed. We interview the client to understand the circumstances of failure, the operating conditions and the maintenance provided. Our experts then reconstruct the mode of failure and identify materials characteristics that may have contributed to failure. Armed with these results, we assist our client in minimizing or eliminating their effects. We provide expert analytical support from the micro-level of a failed semiconductor to identifying flaws in hot worked mill rolls 10 feet in diameter. Our failure analysis lab includes a suite of electron microscopy and spectroscopy methods that are critical in failure investigations. Our capabilities include:

  • Full-Service Metallography Laboratory
    • Sample cross sectioning, drilling and cutting
    • Mounting, grinding and polishing
    • Etching and hardness testing
    • Metallurgical Failure analysis
  • Microscopy
    • Stereo-microscope for fractography and surface assessment
    • Optical microscopy for microstructural analysis
    • Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) for phase identification, local chemistry and fracture surface assessment
  • Chemical Analysis
  • Surface Analysis
  • Welding Analysis
  • Filler metal selection
    • Microstructural development
    • Alloy development
    • Failure analysis
  • Non-Destructive Evaluations
  • Corrosion
    • Assessment and testing
    • Materials selection for a corrosive environment
    • Engineering failure analysis
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