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The process of using standard testing methods such as those developed by the ASTM, or original laboratory techniques to determine the properties of a material.This is one of the main activities of a Materials Scientist or Materials Engineer. It is often called "materials testing". A great deal of materials testing is done for quality control purposes. It is also done to determine the properties of newly discovered materials.

Frequently Measured Properties

Instruments exist that make measuring nearly any of these properties easy. The following is a list of instruments and some of the properties that they can measure easily.

  • Differential Scanning Calorimeter - phase transition temperatures, melting point, specific heat, degradation temperature, and glass transition temperature.
  • Tensile Tester - Elastic modulus, yield strength, ultimate tensile strength, and Poisson's ratio.
  • Rockwell Hardness tester - Rockwell Hardness
  • Thermogravimetric Analyzer - Degradation Temperature
  • Thermomechanical Analyzer - Creep Rate
  • Melt Indexer - Melt Viscosity

Engineers can select the right material for any given job by determining the necessary properties for that material, then looking in a reference book to find a material that has been tested to meet those criteria. If no material that meets those criteria is known, new materials can be made and tested to see if they have the necessary properties.

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