Materials Characterisation and Testing - National Physical Laboratory

Submitted by jt_janssen on Mon, 07/22/2019 - 11:59


Advanced materials - Materials testing expertise and knowledge, delivering confidence in the performance of materials

We undertake cutting-edge measurement research to provide industry with increased confidence when evaluating and predicting the performance of their materials through the full life cycle. We can provide detailed and independent analysis to accelerate development and increase both the performance and quality of products. Our comprehensive capabilities also enable us to precisely identify the root cause for any failures in materials, products or structures.

Our facilities enable measurements traceable to internationally agreed standards - we offer the most accurate and authoritative measurements in the UK, including quantified uncertainty where possible.

Our research is aimed at developing new and improved, validated measurement and instrument technology which will improve the understanding and reliability of the measurement techniques used by industry and academia.

We offer a comprehensive range of services in the following areas:

  • Microstructural characterisation: evaluating structural properties and behaviour of materials at a micro level to understand what may be happening at a larger scale when a material is exposed to defined conditions over its expected lifetime. NPL offers a complete package of microstructural characterisation, testing and consultancy for materials including metals, ceramics, polymer composites, surfaces and coatings all the way to foods, pharmaceuticals, bones and tissue.
  • Mechanical testing: provide customers with the confidence they need that the materials they use are durable and suitable for their intended purpose.  We offer a wide range of standardised and non-standardised testing for a variety of different classes of materials (such as composites, polymers, metals, ceramics and adhesives). In general we measure mechanical strength (uniaxial and bend), fatigue, fracture toughness, elastic modulus, residual stress, hardness, creep, ductile brittle transition, and environmental conditioning (thermal, humidity, chemical).
  • Non-destructive testing: NPL has extensive NDT and surface analysis instrumentation and expertise able to support industry in materials characterisation, product development, and long-term performance assessment and damage monitoring. NPL aims to promote the advancement of metrology underpinning non-destructive testing, condition monitoring and diagnostic engineering (including structural health monitoring) for design and quality assurance purposes.  
  • Surface engineering and advanced coatings: the surface of a material can be altered by factors such as water, dust, extremes in temperature, mechanical contacts, chemicals and mechanical loading. We have a range of techniques which are applied to both bulk surfaces and increasingly to advanced coatings deposited on at the surface to increase wear or erosion resistance or reduce friction. We offer a range of testing services and consultancy that can be tailored to your specific needs.
  • Thermal performance: We provide thermal performance measurements to help ensure the reliability of consumer products and electronics, meet regulatory requirements and improve productivity of advanced manufacturing processes through better optimisation of the manufacturing process and design of components. Our expertise can also help to create durable and lightweight structures for aerospace or automotive industries; conserve energy and reduce waste in nuclear power generation and other energy industries and improve quality of life through support to the healthcare sector.

The outcomes of our research, in the form of new and improved measurement methods, are made available to industry through commercial measurement services and consultancies.

NPL, as the UK's National Measurement Institute, is the prime deliverer of the UK Measurement Strategy. NPL is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards, science and technology available. For more than a century, NPL has developed and maintained the nation's primary measurement standards. These standards underpin an infrastructure of traceability throughout the UK and the world that ensures accuracy and consistency of measurement.


Keywords: Materials Characterisation, Materials Testing, Material performance in service, Advanced manufacturing product verification, 3D microstructure, AI for materials measurement, Digital image correlation, Mechanical property measurement, Materials assurance, Additive manufacturing, Non-contact measurement, scanning electron microscope, engineered surfaces and coatings, wear, Hardness, Thermal properties, metals, composites.



Biological Sciences, Health & Food
E-Infrastructure & Data
Physical Sciences & Engineering
AI for materials measurement
Materials assurance
Materials Testing
Materials Characterisation
Material performance in-service
Advanced manufacturing product verification
3D microstructure



Contact Us

📧 Public Contact email
Telephone Number
020 8977 3222
Host Organisation
National Physical Laboratory
🏢 Address

Greater London
TW11 0LW
United Kingdom

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