Compared to traditional, structural materials, composites offer designers improved performance and flexibility. However, these benefits come at the cost of increased material complexity and it is easy to overlook the challenges of producing high-quality test data to support the needs of both design and materials development.
Basic characterization of static composite materials properties requires a range of tests under different loading conditions often at non-ambient temperatures. For critical applications, more complex tests are required to determine their durability under service conditions such as: compression after impact (CAI) for aerospace, fatigue loading in the wind energy sector, and high-speed testing for automotive crash protection.
Efficient testing of composite materials—in compliance with approved standards and the requirements of auditing bodies such as Nadcap—is demanding in terms of equipment and personnel. The process is made easier by an integrated approach to the testing machine set up and the use of testing software incorporating pre-defined test methods and traceability.
The latest trends in composites materials development—such as the use of thermoplastic matrix materials and advanced additive manufacturing—will bring new testing challenges.
Composite material physical properties
Overview of composites testing
Integrated system solutions for composites testing
Ian McEnteggart has a physics degree from Birmingham University and works for Instron in the UK as Composites Market Manager. Over a 41-year career, at Instron, he has been responsible for developing electronic controllers, software and...
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