Glass failure (or fracture) analysis is a powerful tool combining glass fractography and microscopy to diagnose and determine the root cause of a breakage or product failure.

We also complete preventative quality assessments to potentially stop issues occurring in the future. We provide analysis for products spanning all sectors, including food and drink packaging, domestic glass, furniture, scientific glassware and pharmaceutical packaging.

Glass items are very strong when used correctly, however damage or defects can cause unexpected failure. Reasons for breakages include design problems, glass quality issues, manufacturing or processing issues, material interaction, mishandling or abuse.

Circumstances surrounding a glass breakage can often be unclear. Using the evidence within the broken sample, we can diagnose the true cause of glass failure, which can help eliminate future problems and resolve disputes. (It is essential that all pieces of broken glass are retained to allow a full investigation to be conducted.) Our services include laboratory inspection, on-site investigation and auditing, and an expert witness service for legal or civil disputes.  

Our preventative quality assessments and performance testing ensures due diligence is completed before products are placed on the market, or following concerns or complaints about existing products.

Issues investigated

We investigate a range of product failures and related issues, including

  • glass breakages and fracture diagnosis
  • failure types – including those due to nickel sulphide inclusions, commonly referred to as ‘spontaneous glass failure’ or ‘spontaneous glass breakage’
  • glass impacts and suspected vandalism
  • thermal failures and thermal shock
  • impact
  • internal pressure
  • vertical load
  • product failures, cracking and fractures
  • insulating glass unit failures
  • component interactions
  • fit for purpose analysis

Investigative techniques

Depending on the nature of the product and the failure, various techniques are used to investigate and diagnose the cause of a failure, including

  • reconstruction of failed, broken and damaged articles
  • interpretation of fracture patterns
  • analysis of fracture origins
  • physical testing of intact samples
  • assessment of the product design
  • optical microscopy
  • scanning electron microscopy – including composition of surface deposits, inclusions and contamination by energy dispersive spectrometry
  • compositional analysis

Products investigated

We provide analysis for a wide range of glass products including

  • architectural glass and glazing – including toughened, laminated and annealed glass used in windows, insulated glass units and horizontal floor panels
  • glass packaging – including champagne, wine, beer and non-carbonated drink bottles, jars and ramekins
  • domestic glass – including table glasses, ovenware, cookware, bowls, vases and jugs
  • pharmaceutical packaging – including glass vials, ampoules, bottles and syringes
  • automotive glass for cars and commercial and industrial vehicles
  • furniture and fittings – including tables, mirrors, shower screens and shelves
  • scientific glassware – including beakers, conical flasks, burettes and tubes
  • technical glass – including specialist glass components

Glass failure analysis leadership and expertise

Our experts have extensive experience in determining the reason for glass failure and can provide solutions and recommendations. We provide this service for a huge range of glass products, including containers, homeware, vials, syringes and flat glass. 

View the full leadership team
Graham Morris

Graham Morris

Product Performance Manager
Graham is the manager of the Product Performance team and has worked at Glass Technology Services since 2014. He specialises in the failure analysis of glass articles from a range of sectors, utilising both optical and scanning electron microscope techniques to identify and interpret fracture markings. Read More
Andrew Broadhurst

Andrew Broadhurst

Senior Technologist
Andrew has been at Glass Technology Services since 2012 and works a Senior Technologist within the Product Performance Team. He is involved with routine fitness for purpose testing as well as more complex and bespoke testing and also the failure analysis of all types of glass samples. Read More
Oliver Wallwork

Oliver Wallwork

Senior Technologist
With a strong background in materials science and analytical chemistry, Oliver has been testing glass and investigating instances of product failure since 2014. Read More

Areas of expertise:

Glass fractography including pharmaceutical and specialist glasses SEM imaging and compositional analysis Delivering training courses and webinars
Claire Moir

Claire Moir

Senior Technologist
Claire has been working in the glass industry since 2016 and focuses on mechanical testing methods and failure analysis techniques for a range of different sectors. Read More

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