This paper addresses the problem of improvement of mechanical component reliability by the systematic identification of material failure mechanisms. Experience shows that, in many cases of service failure, failure was caused by a known mechanism which was overlooked, either by design, or elsewhere in the planning process. This paper describes one approach to designing mechanical components against failure by material deterioration, but may have application to other fields. It is based on a finding from the examination of case studies which shows that material failures follow logic structures which can be described by Boolean algebra expressions. These structures are defined as Material Failure Logic Models (MFLM’s), and can be used as a means of systematically identifying potential failure mechanisms in a complex process. The identification technique is based on the observation that MFLM’s are insensitive to the precise causes of the individual events. The paper deals primarily with problems of defining MFLM’s. Some examples of MFLM’s are given. A brief discussion is presented of a CAD system under development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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