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Failure analysis study for pharmaceutical punch

We examined the corrosion damage on the punches used to shape drug powders into pills and found the root cause.

Pharmaceutical punches, made of cold-work tool steel, hardened and chrome-plated, were washed for sterilization before starting tablet production, and after a while, they corroded and became unusable. Our customer asked us to carry out a damage analysis to find the cause of the corrosion.

Corrosion area captured with a stereo-zoom microscope. [6.7x and 50x magnification]

We performed spectral analysis, hardness control and microstructure studies on the material in accordance with the relevant standards. We did not encounter any abnormal situation.

We measured the chrome plating thickness under a scanning electron microscope, it was at the requested thickness.

Finally, we examined the corroded areas under a scanning electron microscope and took EDS.

As a result of the energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) we took from the black and white areas, we found unexpected sodium and calcium elements in the steel material.

So what do you think is the cause of corrosion?

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