National Physical Laboratory

Mechanical test specimens Research

The Engineered Materials team at NPL use a wide range of techniques to understand product performance and the relationship between a material's properties and structure.
  • NPL supports a range of industries and organisation in developing test methodologies and models for materials selection and life prediction.
  • Work is focused on developing advanced test methods for characterising the mechanical performance of a diverse range of material types including metals, polymers, ceramics, composites, coatings, adhesives, biological structures, textiles and even food products, under controlled laboratory conditions and environments, and a range of length scales, from miniaturised to large-scale testing.
  • NPL is actively supporting and working with the UK metal industries on various aspects of characterisation, processing, modelling and measurement.
  • The NPL Microstructural Characterisation Facility is equipped with state-of-the-art metallographic preparation, optical and electron microscope examination equipment. The facility supports a wide range of projects in addition to providing consultancy and measurement services to industry and other customers.
  • NPL research on nanomaterials focuses in developing traceable methods to measure the structural properties of nanomaterials and the interactions and transport across boundaries in nanostructured materials.
  • Powder route materials research encompasses a wide range of hard materials manufactured from powders, including ceramics, hardmetals and powder metal components.
  • There is a need for both improved measurement techniques and greater confidence in the results of existing methods. The latest DTI supported programme of research on materials measurement technology aims to go some way towards meeting both of these goals.
  • NPL's surface engineering work is mainly concerned with the development and validation of measurement methods for the characterisation of the mechanical properties of surfaces.

Engineered Materials


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