Adopting New Technologies to Support Our Failure Analysis Services - Powerlabs

Adopting New Technologies to Support Our Failure Analysis Services

April 13, 2022


Supporting Failure Analysis Services Technology

Constellation PowerLabs is always looking ahead and into the future of calibration, testing and analysis. With the development of new technologies, we are quickly adapting and embracing the changes that come with it. Recently, an investment was made in some new equipment that benefit not only our dimensional components in need of calibration, but for PQI testing, commercial grade dedication testing and failure analysis services.

In the past few months, our lab in Coatesville, PA has been utilizing laser scanning technology to help identify the root cause of a failed part through dimensional analysis.

3D Laser Scanning Technology

PowerLabs has been using the Creaform HandySCAN Black Elite 3D Scanner over the past year in a variety of applications to support our lab’s dimensional verifications. This scanner is a non-contact dimensional device that uses lasers. An instrument that analyzes the surface of a component to create a mesh model in CAD or similar modeling software and measure dimensions of the component.

  • Accuracy: 0.025 mm (0.0009 in)
  • Volumetric accuracy: 0.020 mm + 0.040 mm/m (0.0008 in + 0.0005 in/ft)
  • Measurement resolution: 0.025 mm (0.0009 in)
  • Part size range (recommended): 0.05 – 4 m (0.15 –13 ft)

While this scanner is a quick and accurate tool to determine the dimensional measurements of a component, it provides valuable insight if the unit failed due to dimensional issues.

Laser Scanning Provides Insight into Our Failure Analysis Investigation

A cam lobe that had originally been attached to a diesel engine was sent in for failure analysis due to the component loosely holding against the engine’s shaft. The cam lobe itself, a critical component, was then cut off into two pieces and sent to PowerLabs for further investigation. If this failure had not been identified, it could have thrown off the timing of the valves from opening and closing, to having the engine shut down completely.

Since this component was cut into two pieces, it was determined that it would be better to scan the pieces as opposed to using a standard dimensional tool. Using the HandySCAN, it allowed the technician to scan both sides of the cam lobe and re-create it as one whole component on the computer.

First, the technician provides a visual inspection of the cam lobe and documents any noticeable findings. Next, the technician will use the hand scanner to scan both pieces of the cam lobe and perform a dimensional analysis.

When using the HandySCAN, it will flash 12 blue laser crosses over the surface of the component being examined. It then picks up the dimensions of the piece based on the sensors. From this scan, a grid will be produced and be transformed into a more impressive rendering if needed. With these data points collected, the technician will then compare the scanned 3D drawing with the manufacturer’s machine drawing by overlaying the 3D scan.

Getting Down to the Details

Using both the HandySCAN and the dimensional data comparisons, PowerLabs aims to shed light on the failure in determining if this was a manufacturing defect or something else. If the measurements are off, it means that the unit was not made to the original dimensions and would be considered a manufacturing issue.

Our team has found that using the laser scanner is the fastest and most accurate way for our engineers and technicians to perform dimensional analysis. This helps provide clear answers and valuable insight on the dimensional aspect.

The Future of Failure Analysis

PowerLabs’ Failure Analysis team is continuously embracing new technologies such as the HandySCAN, to help identify the root cause faster so you can make the right corrective action. Our team of experts pride themselves on not only performing a full failure analysis investigation but are continually acquiring new methodologies to enhance our failure analysis service offerings.

As the failure analysis investigation continues, various forms of testing will be applied to the cam lobe to help determine the reason behind the failure which includes:

  • Testing the material itself
  • Hardness the material
  • Microstructure of the material

Once the full analysis has been performed, our failure analysis experts can confidently determine the true root cause of the failure. While this item had not fully failed, it was still a critical component that could have caused more problematic failures. This cam lobe was sent in for further analysis before it could cause a total failure, unexpected downtime, and delays.

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