National Physical Laboratory

Powder Route Materials

Drill bitPowder route materials research encompasses a wide range of hard materials manufactured from powders, including:

  • Ceramics
  • Hardmetals
  • Powder metal components

Hard materials, which often have limited toughness, are very widely used within industry as tooling materials and components to resist wear and corrosive conditions, sometimes at elevated temperature. Example applications include:

  • Orthopaedic components
  • Wear components
  • Electrical and electronic substrates
  • Lamp envelopes
  • Cutting tools and dies
  • Gears and valves

NPL has built a strong knowledge base and unique expertise in these classes of materials. Research is focussed on measurement and characterisation techniques which support the industrial use of these hard and often relatively brittle materials via improved understanding of material performance, new ways of testing materials, and input to formal standardisation process.

For more information: Ken Mingard

Powder Route Materials research

  • Scientists at NPL are working on a project to develop a new, lighter weight beverage can punch with improved wear resistance.
  • Many tool materials that are crucial to efficient manufacturing are made from materials such as ceramics and hardmetals.
  • A wide range of test methods exist for hard and powder routa materials. NPL has carried out extensive work on the best choice of test methods for a given material or application.
  • NPL research has focused on evaluating hardness testing on brittle materials, but its unique depth sensing microhardness mapping equipment can map hardness over large areas of a wide variety of materials.
  • NPL has refurbished and instrumented a drop-weight impact tester for use on hard and brittle materials
  • Accurate representative measurements of grain size are key to defining materials potential properties. The use of electron backscattering diffraction (EBSD) is increasing the possibilities for examination of grain size data.
  • NPL has developed the electrothermal mechanical testing machine (ETMT) in order to enable complex mechanical tests on very small test-pieces.
  • Strength and fatigue in powder route materials.
  • NPL has undertaken extensive research into wear resistance testing and has developed a good understanding to support industry.

Powder Route Materials

Powder Route Materials publications

Powder route materials publications, good practice guides, NPL reports, conference papers, measurement notes..

Powder Route Materials standards

Input to the formal standards-making process is one of our key foci for dissemination of expertise and knowledge, as well as for the outcomes of round-robin activities.


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