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Challenges in Materials Testing

Bryan Jones
3 March 2020


Advances in materials testing and analysis are focussed on the ease with which testing equipment is used, how quickly testing can be done, how repeatable and reproducible are the test results, and a reduction in cost and man-hours through automation of test equipment.

 A number of challenges exist:

  1. Experience has shown that differences in results have been observed when different operators carry-out the tests, and when different test equipment is used on identical test samples. Key to accuracy in test results is the training of operators to ensure consistency in sample preparation and conformance to standard test conditions, together with an understanding of how errors arise and can be corrected.
  2. Relating results on test samples in the laboratory to the performance of manufactured products in various in- service environments.
  3. When automating test equipment in a production scenario which generates a high volume of test samples ensuring consistency in both sample quality and analysis of results.
  4. New and more exotic materials are being developed to meet a range of aspirations including lightweighting, improved performance and reduced cost. A growing list of such products offer challenges in developing appropriate testing methodologies, including advanced composites, carbon nanotubes and graphene.
  5. Advanced manufacturing processes such as additive layer manufacturing pose significant issues in ensuring appropriate levels of sample quality, where for example porosity can have a significant effect on fatigue performance, lack of fusion between the layers, and variations in surface finish are potential issues.


For more on METaL's 'Introduction to Materials Testing' course, including course dates, see website