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Case studies

Training in composite materials standards and certification

NPL offers bespoke training related to Composites Standards and Certification, partly developed under a HEFCE Catalyst-funded project

Case study

The challenge

Composite materials are light, non-corrosive, durable materials. They have particularly high strength and stiffness to weight ratios, making them attractive substitute materials for applications where these properties are key. However, they behave, and indeed fail, differently compared with conventional steel or aluminium alloys so a different design approach is required for them to be used with confidence.

Composite materials are being used successfully in many applications, across a multitude of industry sectors but there is potential for them to be used more extensively.  However, despite being covered in a number of engineering and materials further education courses, there is still a lack of specific, practical knowledge about how to design, test and use composite materials in new applications.

The solution

NPL has developed content for bespoke training, partly through a HEFCE Catalyst funded project. The Masters-level content is designed for people who are already working with composites materials or have some knowledge of the subject, including engineers, advanced technicians and material experts..

The training covers:

  • Why standards are needed and how they are created, reviewed and used
  • Examples of where standards already exist
  • How standards connect with regulations and design codes
  • How to test and verify composites using standards

The classroom-based training can be delivered flexibly, in-person or virtually, to suit the needs of the customer.  The practical elements of the training are delivered in-person at NPL in Teddington, south west London.

The impact

This course gives learners:

  1. An understanding of the need for suitable regulations, codes and standards for composite materials
  2. An overview of the certification process of composite structures in several industry sectors
  3. An ability to analyse qualification test data and obtain appropriate design data

The course first ran, in-person with 8 participants, in Teddington in late 2019. Delegates enjoyed the opportunity to discuss their issues with the trainers and fellow attendees, as well as experience working in another test laboratory and seeing how others do mechanical testing. Discovering how materials and structures are certified using standards and testing or simulation is a common goal, regardless of industry sector, and the course covered what participants need to know when choosing standards and test regimes for composites. Practical examples brought up useful questions relating to how to follow a standard, and which tests are most useful.

More than half of the delegates who attended this course had more than ten years’ experience working with composites. They found the tailored, Masters level course really beneficial. 80% found the technical content excellent and 90% would recommend the course to their colleagues. 


NPL are really pleased to provide this bespoke training on composite materials. We hope it will facilitate the use of composites into new applications for infrastructure, marine, medical, oil and gas, automotive, energy and aerospace sectors.

Stefanos Giannis, Principal Research Scientist - NPL

Find out more

Enhancing the composite materials regulatory infrastructure

The National Physical Laboratory has published a report which identifies a series of actions that will increase the UK’s competitiveness through greater uptake of composite materials