With challenges unlike their metallic counterparts, ALS offers comprehensive services tailored for the unique characteristics of non-metallic material.
Non-metallic materials are replacing metals in applications requiring corrosion resistance, reduced weight, specific wear properties or reduced fabrication costs. However, such materials still require specific consideration in an asset care program. ALS are leaders in providing tailored services to deal with the unique challenges these materials pose.
ALS has extensive experience testing non-metallic materials. Testing types include:
- Mechanical: tensile, compressive, tear, flexural, pull-off, hardness.
- Chemical: chemical compatibility testing and temperature exposure trials, water permeability.
- Holistic: load frame or body impact testing of plastic and composite structures.
Non-metallic material identification can be more in depth than metallic material identification due to the complex mixtures of molecules in such materials. Many rubbers, composites and plastic samples are less than 60% by weight of the named material type with the rest being various mineral and non-mineral fillers. ALS investigates materials using methods including scanning electron microscopy, pyrolysate Fourier transform infrared analysis and thermogravimetric analysis to characterise the various elements, phases and chemical bonds present in the sample. These methods can also be used to identify unknown rubber or plastic fragments which are contaminating systems.
Whilst a number of failure mechanisms, such as tensile overload or fatigue, are common to metallic and non-metallic materials, some failure modes differ in elastomers significantly from metallic materials. This includes mechanisms such as explosive decompression, environmental stress cracking and oxidation damage. ALS has experience in failure investigations across a wide range of non-metallic material sample types including rubbers, fabrics, plastics, composite amongst others.
Non-destructive testing methods for non-metallic materials are constrained by the limited electrical conductivity and magnetism in the materials. ALS has experience in ultrasonic testing of elastomeric materials including conveyer belts and penetrant testing of composite and polymeric materials for crack detection. Holiday testing of coatings and material hardness testing can also be undertaken in-situ.