Often metallurgists who are involved in forensic analysis are asked to find the reasons for various failures in different kinds of materials in various applications.
As a forensic metallurgist, one must have in-depth knowledge in the field of metallurgical engineering, principles and manufacturing fields. They have to determine whether the appropriate engineering principle and the necessary quality standards were really followed or not.
All these standards are related during the time of manufacturing and not in its present condition and they have to evaluate whether the failure was due to any kind of abuse.
Let us first of try to understand that forensic metallurgy can also be a part of forensic engineering that is related to various issues related with various kinds of unforeseen failures, disasters or crashes that take place quite often.
When the term ‘forensic’ is added then it will mean that there can be any criminal aspect in the whole issue and the court of law also will be involved.
All the result of investigations done by the forensic investigation will be typically a preparation of an Engineering report that may give certain recommendation, testimony and few advices as a resolution to the dispute which may be affecting the life or any property.
Here the use of word ‘forensic’ in fact is a misnomer as most of the investigations about the materials, products, components or structures has really failed to perform what was really expected out of the report for any legal proceedings.
Most often the report of the analysis given by the metallurgist will contain case studies where various analyses cannot be used as some kind of evidence for the legal proceedings, however references to the word ‘forensic’ engineering usually refer simply about failure analysis which may never expose anything in the legal proceedings.
All that forensic investigation will do will be a better suggestion how the product or the component can be designed in future to avoid such issues and eliminate any failure. They will also list out various other reasons that can also be a potential reason of the failure.
Following are few typical outcomes of any forensic metallurgical review:
- How the steel composition used in the Titanic was the reason of its failure.
- Why the World Trade Center at New York really collapsed in 2001.
- Whether the coin used are really counterfeit.
- Why certain connection of any microelectronic device failed due to use of any high-resolution transmission electron microscopy.
One of the major issues or rather difficulty with such forensic investigation is that the root cause of any problem may not be related to their specialization. The metallurgical science may be totally irrelevant for the case.
In most of their reports they may conclude that all the problem was due to abuse of the system however the products were manufactured as per the specification.
Therefore, it is essential for the metallurgist to decide in the beginning whether to go ahead with doing all kinds of expensive experiments if no conclusive report will come out of their detailed investigation.