Software solutions for composite testing

August 24, 2016 // By John Cove
According to modern archaeology, one of the earliest examples of a composite material was the carefully soaked layers of linen and plaster used for the Egyptian practice of mummification.

Composites have come a long way since ancient Egypt, and advancements in polymer composites are changing the way these materials are used in industry. The rising popularity of polymer composites is no surprise. These materials have a high strength to weight ratio and are relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture.

Unfortunately, in applications like construction and rail, composites have a poor reputation compared to their steel predecessors. By their nature, composites are comprised of many variations; different fibres, resins, stack materials and fillers. As a result, composites are subject to vigorous test and measurement processes.

Naturally, product designers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) want to ensure their polymer composite can withstand the force that will be placed on it. They also need to know if the material will stretch or elongate and pinpoint its exact breaking point. The major objective of any test and measurement process is to build a coherent set of materials data, but in the case of composite materials, one size rarely fits all.

The diversity of composites raises difficulties when establishing a coherent data set. The data is likely to be completely unique to each sector, product, application and area. The most common tests for tensile strength (MPa or PSI) are tensile chord modulus of elasticity (MPA or PSI), tensile strain (%), Poisson’s ratio and transition strain (%). However, when testing composite materials, the application should not pre-suppose any prior knowledge of which measurements are required.

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