IMR Materials Testing Technical Blog

Mitigating Composite Component Failure with Materials Testing Methods

Fiber-reinforced composites are now widely used across a range of industries as they provide a lightweight alternative to metals and other heavier raw materials. However, manufacturers that use composites must ensure that such materials can meet the requirements of a given application. Failing to do so risks real-world failure, which can have disastrous consequences resulting in injury, recalls, or even litigation.


Fiber-reinforced composites may be subjected to a comprehensive range of testing services to verify that they have the correct resistance and other beneficial properties for a given application. Testing can help manufacturers determine the following characteristics (or lack thereof) in their composites:

  • Mechanical
  • Physical
  • Electrical
  • Optical
  • Thermal
  • Flammability
  • Exposure
  • Emissions
  • Barrier
  • Surface
  • Chemical

In addition, composites may be tested for the existence and limitations of certain properties that could lead to failure if the wrong material is selected for the intended application. These include:

  • Toughness
  • Hardness
  • Resistance to cracking
  • Strength
  • Cure
  • Flame resistance
  • Heat resistance
  • Temperature limits
  • Impact strength
  • Viscoelasticity
  • Ductility
  • Tensile stress
  • Compressive stress
  • Shear stress


While composites are strong and light, significant engineering goes into developing and manufacturing them to ensure a durable finished product in the end. We have worked with a number of composite failure modes, including

  • delamination
  • intralaminar matrix cracking
  • longitudinal matrix splitting
  • fiber/matrix debonding
  • fiber pull-out
  • fiber fracture


Certain failure conditions cannot be ignored and should be tested in advance of final material selection. Failing to perform due diligence during the material selection process makes a manufacturer culpable for any damage caused as a result of the poor material choice. Conversely, however, if proper testing is performed in advance, having the results on file can help to mitigate any allegations that may occur should problems arise in the future. Testing should be conducted to verify the following:

• Safety
Determining if the material is suitable for safe operation in its intended application should be a priority before moving forward with any final design.

• Quality
Cheaper is not always better. Composite testing can help verify that your organization is getting the best material available for your budget.

• Process control
If your supplier is apathetic about their internal processes, this will carry through the supply chain to create a subpar final product.

• Regulatory compliance
Regardless of the industry in which you operate, there are regulations in place that set standards for the materials used to manufacture goods. Failing to comply with these standards can result in costly fines or other legal ramifications.

• Performance
Knowing in advance whether the selected material will meet the performance standards of your application helps you avoid complications throughout the manufacturing process and in real-world applications.

Some industries have strict standards that go above and beyond what is required for standard consumer goods. In the aerospace sector, for example, parts must tolerate an array of harsh conditions, such as temperature extremes, impacts, mechanical stresses, open flames, and chemical exposure. The extreme consequences of a failed aerospace component can literally be life or death. This makes it absolutely essential to thoroughly test all materials, providing a guarantee that they are up to the challenges posed by the application


For non-metallic materials, the typical failure analysis process undertaken by non-met testing specialists looks like this:

• Reviewing the steps that occurred before the failure
• Simulating the conditions under which the failure occurred to the failure
• Collecting samples for chemical analysis
• Investigating why some components, if any, remain intact
• Determining the root causes behind the failure
• Recommending steps to avoid future recurrence


The staff at IMR Test Labs lends their expertise to composite testing for a range of purposes, including routine production control testing, R&D support, or failure analysis. Our team works with clients ranging from general manufacturing, infrastructure, and construction, to defense and aerospace, providing proof that the materials they work with are safe, high quality, and suitable for the requirements of client designs.

Our labs are fully equipped to perform failure Testing on polymers, composites, and elastomers. Our experienced staff of PhDs, engineers, chemists, lab technicians, and other support staff provide concise reports that include:

  • Stress-strain diagrams
  • Data on proportional and elastic limits
  • Yield points
  • Strength
  • Compressive strength

These reports provide the critical knowledge that procurement professionals and design engineers need during decision-making processes. We don’t just collect information, we make sure you understand the results and how they apply to your business. Our motto is: Not just data, knowledge.

To learn more about how IMR Test Labs can help you thoroughly vet your composites, or to ask about any of our other testing services, contact us onlinerequest a quote, or call us directly at 1-888-464-8422.

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