Mechanical Testing: Everything You Need To Know

What is Mechanical Testing?

Mechanical testing involves assessing the mechanical properties of a material within a specific environment.

Various types of tests are utilized to determine different properties. For instance, a tensile test measures the tensile strength of a material, a Charpy V-notch test quantifies its toughness, a Vickers hardness test indicates its hardness, and high cycle fatigue testing reveals the material’s endurance under load cycles before failure.

Certain mechanical tests provide insights into multiple properties simultaneously. For instance, a tensile test not only determines a material’s ultimate tensile strength but also provides data on its yield strength, modulus of elasticity, and even its ductility or brittleness based on the stress-strain curve and fracture behaviour.

Different tests can assess the same mechanical properties. For example, toughness can be evaluated using a Charpy V-notch test or an Izod test, while hardness can be measured using Vickers, Brinell, or Rockwell tests. The slight differences between each testing technique enable engineers to select the most suitable mechanical test for their specific requirements.

Mechanical testing plays a crucial role in design and manufacturing processes, and it can be performed internally or outsourced to external testing laboratories.

Irrespective of the testing location, the primary objective of mechanical testing is to ensure the integrity of final products or structures. Consequently, tests should be conducted under environmental conditions similar to those experienced by the end product.

The testing requirements are usually specified in the drawings for different parts, making the manufacturer responsible for conducting the tests.

In addition to ensuring integrity, mechanical testing aids in cost-effective design and facilitates technological innovation. Designers and manufacturing teams can employ such testing to validate enhancements and enhance part quality.

Mechanical tests also serve as a means to mitigate unforeseen failures and contribute to failure investigations.

Types of Mechanical Testing Services:

Mechanical testing services are essential for industries such as automotive, aerospace, construction, manufacturing, and materials development. Here are some common mechanical testing services:

  • Tensile Testing:

Tensile testing measures a material’s response to stretching forces, determining properties like tensile strength, yield strength, elongation, and modulus of elasticity. These tests are crucial for evaluating the performance and integrity of materials under tension.

  • Compression Testing:

Compression testing evaluates a material’s ability to withstand compressive forces. These tests determine properties such as compressive strength, modulus of elasticity, and deformation behaviour under compression. Compression testing helps in understanding material behaviour in load-bearing applications.

  • Flexural Testing:

Flexural testing assesses a material’s response to bending forces. These tests measure properties like flexural strength, modulus of elasticity, and flexural modulus. Flexural testing is essential for materials used in applications where bending or deflection is a critical consideration.

  • Impact Testing:

Impact testing evaluates a material’s resistance to sudden, high-energy loads. These tests involve subjecting the material to controlled impacts to measure properties such as toughness, fracture resistance, and energy absorption. Impact testing is crucial for materials used in applications where impact or shock loads are prevalent.

  • Hardness Testing:

Hardness testing assesses a material’s resistance to indentation or scratching. These tests measure the material’s hardness, which indicates its strength and wear resistance. Hardness testing is valuable for applications where surface hardness and durability are critical.

  • Fatigue Testing:

Fatigue testing investigates a material’s behaviour under repeated or cyclic loading. These tests subject the material to alternating stress cycles, assessing properties like fatigue strength, endurance limit, and fatigue life. Fatigue testing is essential for predicting the lifespan and performance of materials subjected to cyclic stresses.

  • Creep Testing:

Creep testing examines a material’s behaviour under a constant stress or load over an extended period, particularly at elevated temperatures. These tests provide data on the material’s time-dependent deformation properties. Creep testing is essential for materials used in high-temperature applications.

  • Fracture Mechanics Testing:

Fracture mechanics testing analyses a material’s resistance to crack propagation and fracture. These tests evaluate properties such as fracture toughness, critical stress intensity factor, and crack growth behaviour. Fracture mechanics testing helps in understanding the material’s resistance to failure and designing structures with improved fracture resistance.

  • Material Characterization:

Material characterization encompasses a wide range of tests to determine the mechanical, physical, and chemical properties of materials. These tests include tensile, compression, flexural, and impact testing, as well as hardness, fatigue, and creep testing. Material characterization provides a comprehensive understanding of a material’s behaviour and performance.

  • Consulting and Failure Analysis:

Many mechanical testing service providers offer consulting and failure analysis services. They assist clients in test selection, result interpretation, and recommendations for material improvements. In case of failures or accidents, these services conduct detailed investigations to determine the root causes and provide insights for prevention.

Examples of Mechanical Testing Service

  • Wedge Test

The Wedge test for fasteners is a mechanical test method used to evaluate the tensile strength and integrity of fasteners, such as bolts, screws, or studs. It is primarily employed in quality control and material testing to ensure that fasteners meet specified standards and requirements.

In the wedge test, a specially designed wedge-shaped tool is used to apply an axial force to the fastener. The wedge is inserted into a slot or groove on the fastener, and a tensile load is gradually applied, pulling the fastener in the axial direction. The force is increased until the fastener fails or fractures.

Examples of Standards/Certifications: AS 1252.1; AS 4291.1; AS/NZS 4291.2; MRTS 78; RMS B240

  • Vickers Hardness Test

The Vickers hardness test is a method used to measure the hardness of a material. It involves pressing a pyramidal-shaped diamond indenter into the surface of the material and measuring the size of the resulting indentation.

The Vickers hardness test is widely used in quality control, material characterization, and research and development applications. It provides valuable information about a material’s resistance to plastic deformation, wear resistance, and strength, making it a valuable tool in various industries, including manufacturing, engineering, and metallurgy.

Examples of Standards/Certifications: AS 1817.1; ASTM E384; ISO 6507-1; ISO 6508-1

  • Rockwell Hardness Test

The Rockwell hardness test is a widely used method for determining the hardness of a material. It measures the resistance of a material to permanent indentation or penetration by applying an external load using a diamond cone or a hardened steel ball.

The Rockwell hardness test involves two main scales: the Rockwell C scale (HRC) and the Rockwell B scale (HRB). The choice of scale depends on the specific material being tested.

The Rockwell hardness test is popular due to its simplicity, speed, and accuracy. It is suitable for a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, and composites. The test provides a reliable measurement of hardness, which is important for assessing a material’s strength, wear resistance, and suitability for specific applications.

Examples of Certifications: AS 1815.1; ISO 6508-1

  • Charpy Impact Test

The Charpy impact test is a standardized method used to measure the toughness or impact strength of a material. It evaluates the material’s ability to absorb energy under high-strain-rate loading conditions, such as sudden impact or shock.

In the Charpy impact test, a notched or V-shaped specimen is supported at its ends and struck by a pendulum hammer. The pendulum swings downward, and its striking edge impacts the specimen at a specific point between the supports. The impact causes the specimen to fracture and break.

The Charpy impact test is conducted at various temperatures, allowing the evaluation of a material’s resistance to impact over a range of conditions. Testing at different temperatures is particularly important for assessing materials used in applications exposed to low temperatures, as their impact properties can significantly change.

The results of the Charpy impact test provide insights into a material’s behaviour under sudden impact or shock loading, its fracture toughness, and its ability to resist brittle fracture. It is widely used in quality control, material selection, and design assessment, especially in industries such as construction, automotive, aerospace, and structural engineering.

The Charpy impact test is standardized and governed by various international standards organizations, including ASTM International and ISO (International Organization for Standardization). The results of the Charpy impact test help ensure the safety and reliability of materials in applications subjected to sudden impact or dynamic loading.

Examples of Certifications: AS 1544.2; AS 1544-5; ISO 148-1; ASTM E23; ASTM A370

  • Cold Flattening

Cold flattening, also known as cold flattening test or flattening test, is a mechanical test method used to evaluate the ductility and integrity of metallic tubes or pipes. It is commonly performed as part of quality control or material testing procedures to ensure that the tubes or pipes meet specific standards and requirements.

In the cold flattening test, a section of the tube or pipe is flattened using mechanical force without the application of heat. The test specimen is typically prepared by cutting a specific length of the tube or pipe and removing any internal supports or inserts.

The specific parameters and acceptance criteria for cold flattening tests may vary depending on the applicable standards, specifications, or industry requirements. The test results help ensure the reliability, safety, and suitability of metallic tubes or pipes for their intended applications, such as plumbing, structural components, or fluid transportation systems.

Examples of Certifications: AS 1163

  • Pressure Testing

Pressure testing is a mechanical testing method used to assess the integrity, strength, and performance of components or systems that are designed to contain or withstand pressure. It involves subjecting the component or system to internal or external pressure to evaluate its ability to maintain structural integrity and prevent leakage under specified conditions.

In pressure testing, the component or system is pressurized using a fluid or gas, and the pressure is gradually increased to the desired level. The applied pressure is maintained for a specified duration to observe the behaviour and response of the component or system.

Examples of Certifications: AS 1210; AS 3788; AS 4037; AS 4041

Importance of Mechanical Testing

Mechanical testing is of paramount importance in various industries and fields. Here are several key reasons why it holds such significance:

  • Quality Assurance:

Mechanical testing plays a crucial role in ensuring the quality and reliability of materials and products. By subjecting materials to controlled tests, manufacturers can assess their mechanical properties, such as strength, hardness, and durability, to determine if they meet required specifications. This helps identify any potential weaknesses or flaws in the materials, allowing for necessary improvements or adjustments to enhance product quality.

  • Performance Evaluation:

Mechanical testing provides valuable insights into how materials and components perform under different conditions. It helps engineers and designers understand the behaviour of materials when subjected to external forces, temperatures, or other environmental factors. This knowledge is vital in optimizing designs, selecting suitable materials for specific applications, and predicting how products will perform in real-world scenarios.

  • Safety Assessment:
Safety Precaution

In industries where safety is a critical concern, such as automotive, aerospace, and construction, mechanical testing plays a pivotal role in ensuring the integrity and safety of materials and structures. By subjecting them to rigorous tests, engineers can assess their resistance to impact, fatigue, and other stressors, allowing them to identify potential failure points and take necessary measures to prevent accidents or catastrophic failures.

  • Research and Development:

Mechanical testing is essential in research and development activities, particularly in materials science and engineering. It helps researchers evaluate the properties of new materials or prototypes, allowing them to understand their behaviour, optimize their compositions, and identify potential applications. By conducting mechanical tests, scientists can push the boundaries of material performance and develop innovative solutions for various industries.

  • Regulatory Compliance:

Mechanical testing is often required for regulatory compliance and certification purposes. Industries such as healthcare, consumer goods, and transportation must adhere to specific standards and regulations to ensure the safety and reliability of their products. Mechanical tests provide objective data to demonstrate compliance with these standards, enabling manufacturers to meet regulatory requirements and gain necessary certifications.

  • Comparative Analysis:

Mechanical testing allows for meaningful comparisons between different materials, components, or manufacturing processes. By subjecting multiple samples to the same tests, engineers and scientists can quantify and compare their mechanical properties. This information aids in decision-making processes, such as material selection, process optimization, or supplier evaluation.

Mechanical testing services play a crucial role in ensuring product quality, reliability, and safety across various industries. They help in material selection, design optimization, and quality control, ultimately leading to the development of superior products and structures.


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