Cetim-Cermat has been providing, for the past 20 years, expertise and failure analysis in the field of plastics and composites. Given the widespread use of synthetic materials and the increasing popularity of composites, the interest for this type of activity is seen in various sectors: automobile, railway, building, chemical industry, retail ... Cetim-Cermat is directly involved with companies, insurance experts and even legal experts.

More than 200 failures resolved yearly.


  • Legal expertise
  • Insurance expertise
  • Counselling

Investigation facilities 

  • Observations
  • Macrographic bench
  • Optical microscopy
  • Electronic microscopy

Analysis and characterisation


  • Elementary analysis (EDX)
  • Identification (IRTF) 
  • Thermal analyses (DSC-ATG-TMA)
  • Additive research (ATD/GC/MS)
  • Viscosimetric measurements (MFI-IV)
  • Viscoanalysers (DMTA)
  • Mechanical tests

  What is a failure?

It may be given the following definition: a part or collection of parts is considered defective when it does not fulfill its original function or higher. Although failure is often associated to rupture, it may also reflect a variation in appearance or surface (heterogeneity, fading, chalking ...), a geometric fault (buckling, creep, shrinkage ...) or any other none desired change in the characteristic of the part (VOC or volatile Organic Compounds, combustibility, gas permeability, dielectric properties ...). Thus, given the large number of cases, Cetim has compiled statistics on the modes of failure from parts in service.

When does it occur?

Failure does not necessarily appear during the use of the part. Considering the overall life cycle of an object, it can occur at any stage of its development. A failure can potentially be associated with the selection of the material, design, manufacture, use, and more recently concerning plastics, recycling characteristics.

With regards to recycling, it is known that the different sectors are in a process of self structuring. Consequently, the various types of sources associated with the technical complexity of revaluing materials, are leading to unexpected failures not yet published. That said, even for treatments of damages whose origin were, until recently, unpublished (see recycling), the process of failure analysis remains valid, whatever the context. In fact, the process is followed through with a rigorous and disciplined approach. The gathering of expertise requires the use of techniques that are more or less sophisticated, and this remains always under the full control of our experts in our laboratories.

Reviews of the fractured surface through the electron scanning microscope.






Fatigue striations from Aging Polycarbonate and UV polypropylene

CETIM Grand Est
21, rue de Chemnitz BP 2278
68068 Mulhouse Cedex
Tél : 03 89 32 72 20 - Fax : 03 89 59 97 87

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