LFI undertakes the forensic investigation of incidents involving the failure, damage or corrosion of metal and metal alloy components and structures.

Metallurgy is the field of materials science and engineering concerned with the structure, properties and manufacture of metals and their alloys.  LFI applies its metallurgical expertise to a diverse range of metallic materials including:Iron, steels and stainless-steel alloys

  • Aluminium and magnesium alloys
  • Copper, brass and bronze alloys
  • Titanium and Superalloys
  • Zinc, Nickel and Chromium alloys
  • Tin, lead and associated alloys, including solders
  • Precious metals including gold and silver

When investigating the failure, damage or corrosion of a metallic component or structure, LFI would typically undertake visual, stereoscopic and often microscopic examinations.  These examinations may be undertaken on site or at our laboratory. 

LFI has investigated a wide range of issues such as:

  • Fatigue or ‘overload’ failure, for example due to excessive or unintended loading
  • Corrosion, chemical attack and degradation, e.g. due to inadequate corrosion protection and/or coating application
  • Improper design, specification or material selection
  • Manufacturing-related defects, such as voids, inclusions and residual stresses
  • Fabrication and joining defects such as inadequate welding
  • Materials defects, including incorrect chemical composition and heat treatment condition

Additional compositional analysis and mechanical testing may also be used to characterise the materials and determine the cause(s) of the issue in question.

Some examples of the types of cases we investigate are:

  1. The fatigue failure of a steel column of a wind turbine due to defective welding
  2. The Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC) failure of a brass valve
  3. Atmospheric corrosion damage to zinc sheet used for a façade of a large commercial building
  4. The collapse of a steel storage racking due to a forklift truck impact and improper design
  5. The failure of an aluminium alloy hydraulic jack due to excessive pressure




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