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Losses involving metallurgical failures occur in a wide range of industrial and domestic environments and can lead to high value claims or even loss of life.

Incidents might involve structural collapses or mechanical failures that result from corrosion, fracture, wear or deformation (bending/buckling) of metallic parts. Such catastrophic failures sometimes result from problems in the manufacture of the parts or from the inappropriate selection of a particular material (which is itself well made) for the job in hand.

We can investigate such failures by carrying out detailed inspections of the components and considering the environment and the application, in order to differentiate between issues such as defective machinery, operating errors, poor maintenance and other external causes. 

Having our own laboratories and equipment means that we can complete specialised testing of metallic components to establish the true nature of the failure (for instance whether a fracture was instantaneous or gradual), which might have implications for policy coverage. 

We use well established metallurgical techniques to discover whether a component was specified or made as it should have been, in order to provide options for recovery and to understand ongoing risk considerations.


We have the technical knowledge and experience to tell you why a metallurgical failure or catastrophic incident occurred, not just what caused it.

  • We support subrogation/recovery efforts.
  • We help you to make decisions regarding where legal responsibilities/liabilities lie.
  • We help you to defend wrongful claims.
  • We produce reports suitable for Court and litigation.
  • We provide you with the answers you need to determine why an incident occurred and so assist in repudiation / cover decisions and fraud identification.
  • Our experts have a wide range of industrial experience, including detailed knowledge of metal grades, manufacturing processes and applications and can carry out targeted research to support investigations.
  • We have laboratories and equipment designed specifically to investigate metallurgical failures and have access to specialised equipment in external laboratories.
  • We will help you to determine if an incident could have been avoided.
  • We provide consultancy advice to prevent similar events happening again in the future.
  • If removing a risk entirely is unavoidable, we advise on steps to take to mitigate the risk and reduce the potential damage resulting from an incident.
  • We advise on servicing, maintenance and repair regimes.

Examples of Typical cases

If you would like to know if we can help, please fill out our enquiry form or give us a call for a free consultation.

Examples of metallurgical failures investigated at Hawkins include:




We like to speak to you before we conduct any work, to establish if we can add any value to the case.  These discussions help us to understand your requirements, as well as determining how much information is already available, including for example, service records, first-hand witness accounts, photographs, and videos. We are also happy to provide you with an estimate of the cost of conducting a forensic investigation.



If required and with your agreement, we will arrange to visit the scene to inspect the damage. Wherever possible, we will retain faulty parts for examination in our laboratory, where we use a range of equipment, tools, and tests to determine the cause of the failure. This could include microscope examinations, recreating an installation in a controlled environment, or testing exemplar components or materials.



Once our examination is complete, we will discuss our findings with you and prepare a report containing a detailed account of our investigation, conclusions, and where appropriate, further work or advice.

Related areas of expertise


A composite material is any multicomponent material that contains two or more distinct constituents or phases, i.e. it is made from a combination of two or more different types of constituent material. Perhaps the most familiar examples in modern engineering are glass or carbon fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP or CFRP).


Polymers, or plastics as they are more commonly known, are used in all aspects of modern-day life: from pipework to paint coatings, textile fibres to automotive components and adhesives to hot water bottles. Plastics are imbedded into our way of life, and failure of these materials can lead to personal injury, escapes of water, loss of earnings, to name just a few outcomes.

Glass & Ceramics

Ceramics are familiar materials in everyday life and typically fall into one of the following groups: glasses, structural clays, whiteware, abrasives, cements and advanced ceramics. These are easily recognised all around us, from windows, lenses and fibre glass to floor tiles, plumbing fixtures and optical fibres. Failure of these materials can lead to personal injury, structural damage, loss of earnings, to name just a few outcomes.