Material testing machines are known by many names, for example friction testers, peel testers, tensile testers or compression testers. When users need to select the best machine to test their products, this complicated web of names and terminology can prove challenging.
There are some essential criteria which users should be aware of when selecting a suitable material tester – criteria such as quality, application and cost. Additionally, factors such as ease-of-use, adaptability and flexibility should also be considered.
As well as these core considerations, specific instrument characteristics should also be explored. Including the size of the instrument’s available work area, the instrument’s inbuilt software and its suitability for the application in question. Additionally, how adaptable the instrument is to the user’s future needs and what level of aftersales support and training is provided by the instrument’s manufacturer.
In order to select the best material tester for an application, there are a number of things which must be considered before making a purchase:
The quality of the material tester itself is not the only consideration when a user is looking to ensure they get the best material tester at the right price point. The combination of material tester and its bundled or compatible software must be considered, as while the material tester conducts the test itself, it is the software which is responsible for calculating and storing the test results. Ideally, this software should be able to transfer and integrate any acquired data into a third-party analysis software too.
Application requirements often change over time, so users can save money and time by acquiring a materials tester which comes bundled with a comprehensive software package capable of conducting a wide range of tests. This means that there is no need for additional investment or new software modules when these changes occur.
Having a software with the flexibility to adapt to changing needs is a huge benefit. Acquiring additional material testing software modules every time testing needs change can become a costly affair. Some material testers today come with a comprehensive software package as a standard.
Image: Software package
Ease of Use
It is important to try a material tester before purchasing it, particularly so that a user can confirm that the instrument’s software package is intuitive and able to meet the specific application requirements.
Most contemporary material testers come with a standards library which can configure the device to test according to a certain international standard. Where a user requires a specialist test to be set up, some better material testers will have an inbuilt wizard interface which can guide the user through the test set up process, allowing complex or unusual tests to be set up quickly and easily.
Users should select a materials tester with a large work area in terms of both width and height. This means that should there be a need to test larger samples in the future, the constraints of the work area will not be a cause for concern.
For very large samples, selecting a machine compatible with Pogos is well worth considering as, by adding a Pogo to a test system the user can considerably increase their work area.
A machine which offers a range of inbuilt software modules is always a wise choice, as this allows potential future application requirements to be catered for. The more modules available from the offset, the less chance there is that a user will have to invest in additional software should their needs change.
Ideally, a materials tester should be optimized for automated testing so that users can ultimately save money and time by optimizing the workflow of their application. A machine which features a CANBUS interface is always a wise choice because this allows for improved communication between the tester and any add-on accessories which may be purchased later.
Image: Materials tester optimized for automation
Where there is a chance that future testing needs may require the use of accessories such as extensometers or splinter shields, it is advisable to select a machine that has easy mounting slots designed for the quick and easy mounting of accessories. Not only does this save time, but it helps make sure that accessories added will be installed properly with no risk of falling off during testing.
Image: Mounting slots
Image: Materials tester with splinter shield
Future needs should be a central consideration when selecting a materials tester. For example, users may plan on expanding their product range, so it is imperative that the materials tester can accommodate these requirements. As a general rule, a materials tester can only accommodate smaller load cells than the ones it had attached when it was first purchased.
Be Realistic About Needs
There is a material tester that is suitable for every need, so it is important to consider the tests that it can perform. Where the required tests are advanced or need to meet certain standards, a tester with comprehensive assurance documentation, reliability and traceability should be chosen.
Where tests can be conducted within a wide margin, there is no requirement to choose the most expensive model on the market. Should there be any doubt around future needs, it is certainly worth asking a specialist for advice before making a purchase.
Image: Advanced dual column tester with extra wide work area and capacity up to 100 kN
Image: Force tester with capacity up to 5 kN
Think Long Term
It is important to select a stable partner when selecting a materials testing instrument, so that they can provide long term aftersales support, service, training and support. Before purchasing, ensure that the manufacturer has a solid track record within the market and that they are able to provide skilled professionals who not only understand the industry in question but can understand and overcome specific challenges with that industry.
Where there is a clear choice between two model sizes, it may be prudent to invest in the larger machine, therefore ensuring that should testing needs change in the future, there is a better chance that these can be accommodated.
Often, users are tempted to purchase a smaller model with fewer features to allow for a less expensive initial expense, but where there is even the slightest chance that there may later be a need for greater capacity, it may end up being more expensive to then later invest in a larger machine to replace the smaller one.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Lloyd Instruments Ltd.
For more information on this source, please visit Lloyd Instruments Ltd.