1. Failure analysis often begins with an examination of the part, often using microscopic methods. For a physical failure, the crack surface can provide clues about the nature of the failure, such as whether the part underwent brittle or ductile failure, or whether it was the result of environmental stress cracking (ESC).
2. If chemical attack is suspected, chromatographic techniques may be applied to look for the presence of a solvent or other compound that could break down the part. Additionally, if certain types of degradation are suspected, analysis of the additives by chromatographic methods may be carried out.
3. Molecular weight analysis of good and bad parts may be applied to confirm that degradation is occurring.
4. Thermal analysis (DSC) can be used to look at differences in thermal history which could manifest in variations in crystallinity. Crystallinity can affect mechanical properties.