Materials Testing & Analysis

ATTAR’s engineers use several methods and specialised testing equipment for materials and mechanical characterisation.  Using the most advanced in-house test equipment, our team can draw upon a large range of tools to support your testing needs. Our advanced systems include

Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
- SEM for high magnification examination of surfaces, with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy for elemental identification for all materials.

Stereographic Microscope
- For the study of fracture surfaces up to 100X (fractography).

Inverted Stage Optical Microscopy
- Used to study microstructures, identification of defects and confirmation of manufacturing processes. 

Analytical Testing
Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) & Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) analysis for polymeric materials to identify fundamental material properties such as composition, functional groups, melting point, glass transition, resistance to environmental degradation and many more.

- Optical Emission Spectrometry (OES) metallic material analysis and alloy designation.
- Melt Flow Tester (MFT) used to verify the thermal characteristic of thermoplastic polymers.
- Coating thickness assessment.

Evaluations using NDT
Evaluation to all Non-Destructive Test methods; Magnetic Particle testing (MT), Penetrant testing (PT), Ultrasonic testing (UT), Radiographic testing (RT), Computed Radiograph (CRT), Eddy Current testing (ET), Phased Array Ultrasonic testing (PAUT) and Time of Flight Diffraction (TOFD). 

Corrosion and Erosion Assessments
Determination of mode of corrosion/erosion, and provision of recommendations on remediation and the suitability of materials for the service application.

 

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) 

SEM with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy for elemental identification for all materials. Electron source used instead of light to image. Electrons are accelerated to 15kV, achieving smaller wavelengths than light for high magnification and resolution imaging. The beam is focused using electromagnets inside a vacuum chamber. Electrons backscatter off sample surface and are detected to produce an image.

Capabilities
- Imaging up to x30,000 magnification
- High depth of field
- Metal, plastic/polymers, ceramic, composites, coatings/thin films and biological samples
- Chemical analysis using energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS)
- Topography (surface features); curves, scratches, fracture arrest marks, fatigue striations, dimples, roughness, fibres, discontinuities, voids / porosity, cracking 
- Compositional contrast (microstructure); phases / grain boundaries, precipitates, welds, inclusions, foreign particulates, trace elements, corrosion product, microstructure, precipitates, inclusions, foreign particles, 

 

Stereo Microscope

Viewing surface features is critical in failure investigations

Capabilities
- View surface features: cracking, corrosion, wear, coating thickness
- Fracture mode confirmation: Fatigue, overload, shearing, brittle, ductile
- Imaging up to x90 magnification
- Weld macros 

 

Optical Microscope

Viewing microstructure of samples confirms the materials composition, phases, cracking and defect failure investigations.

Capabilities
- View metallographic specimens
- Imaging up to x800 magnification
- Metal phase identification
- Confirmation of metal heat treatment
- Microstructural defects
- Precipitates / Inclusions
- Cracking
- Surface treatments

 

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) 

FTIR analysis identifies plastic (organic) materials by directing a wide spectrum of infrared light onto the sample.  Particular atomic bonds and atomic arrangements within the sample absorb specific wavelengths.  The detector measures the wavelengths absorbed and their intensities. This provides an absorption spectra or ‘material fingerprint’ to be matched to a database of known spectra to confirm the material’s identity.

Capabilities
- Rapid identification of plastics using infrared radiation
- Thermoplastics, Thermosets, Co-polymer blends, rubbers, adhesives
- Presence of polymer functional groups: additives / degradation
- Volume fraction of polymer blends
- Accurate comparison of plastic materials

 

Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC)

DSC analysis for polymeric materials to identify fundamental material properties such as composition, functional groups, melting point, glass transition, resistance to environmental degradation and many more. A plastic sample is heated to measure its physical thermal transformations e.g. melting point, glass transition. The sample is placed in an aluminium pan, inside a chamber under inert nitrogen gas, alongside an empty pan. During heating, changes in heat input rate to keep the temperature constant between the sample and reference pan are recorded and represents the onset of a transformation.

Capabilities
- Characterisation and identification of plastics by thermal analysis
- Temperature range: 25°C to 500°C
- Melting point (Tm)
- Glass transition temperature (Tg)
- Percent crystallinity
- Degree of cure
- Polymer purity
- Oxidation resistance: oxidative induction time (OIT)

 

Optical Emission Spectrometer (OES)
OES metallic material analysis and alloy designation. Chemical analysis of metals is performed by an electric discharge spark on the sample through an electrode. This is done under an inert Argon atmosphere. The thermal energy excites outer orbital electrons of the sample atoms which emit light (spectral emissions). The radiated light is specific to the elements present and is separated before reaching the detector.  This gives a composition of each element within the alloy.

Capabilities
- Chemical composition of metals
- Portable unit for onsite use
- Identification of alloy grade including low carbon versions of  steel and stainless steel alloys
- Check compliance to specification 

Download
- Forensic Engineering & Failure Analysis brochure (pdf)