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The Sound of Metal Fracture

J.E.I. Metallurgical, Inc. was called by a client who had purchased a cast iron skillet from a well-known cooking program. The client was excited to use her new skillet, placed it on the stove and lit the burner. Shortly thereafter, a “loud explosion” occurred and the handle rocketed past her head, barely missing her cheek.  This frightening ordeal left her unable to cook in her kitchen.

The facts presented were:

  1. No photographs of the skillet, skillet handle or the fracture surface where the handle had previously attached to the skillet were available.
  2. The offending skillet and handle had been returned to the well-known cooking program.
  3. The skillet was manufactured in China and no engineering drawings or specifications were available.
  4. The skillet and failed handle had been lost and would not be available for analysis.

Our first question was how J.E.I. Metallurgical could possibly assist since no photographs existed and no exemplar skillet with the same casting defect existed to recreate the failure. All evidence had been thrown away, so possible spoliation issues there; however, the sound that was part of the alleged PTSD could be recreated.  When a piece of metal fractures, a loud sound or report is often created; the stronger and more brittle the metal, the louder the sound produced when a fracture occurs.

After considering the situation, we could possibly assist with recreating the sound and metal fracture and defect issues.

Samples were prepared, audio recording equipment was assembled, and sound recording commenced.  The sounds produced were sudden and accompanied fracture.  The sounds were much like a pistol or rifle shot being fired.  The sounds recorded were analyzed and sounds produced six inches from the source were greater than a 22-caliber bullet but less than a 38 caliber.

Amazingly, the results of the J.E.I. testing were transmitted to the client and the matter was settled.


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J.E.I. Metallurgical, Inc.

5514 Harbor Town
Dallas, Texas 75287

Phone: (972) 934-0493
Fax: (469) 737-3938

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