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Destructive Testing: What Is It and Why Do You Need It?

Destructive testing helps identify a product's or material's limits and understand how it behaves under extreme conditions.
Destructive Testing

What is destructive testing (DT)?

Destructive testing, or destructive physical analysis (DPA), involves intentionally damaging materials, components, and machines to evaluate their strength and durability. It aims to identify a product's or material's limits and understand how it behaves under extreme conditions.

DT is crucial for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), as it helps provide proper maintenance and operating recommendations for their machines.

Once a material or component has undergone DT, it can’t be used again in regular operation.

DT is typically performed before mass production, and OEMs can ensure they provide customers with reliable, safe, and effective machines.

Destructive testing vs. non-destructive testing

Destructive and non-destructive testing (NDT) is crucial in evaluating various industries' properties and performance of materials, components, or systems.

Destructive testing involves intentionally damaging or altering samples to determine their chemical and physical properties, but it is more expensive and time-consuming than the latter.

On the other hand, NDT assesses the quality and integrity of materials, components, structures, and systems without causing harm to the original parts. This technique helps detect characteristic differences, welding defects, and deteriorations.

NDT is less costly and time-consuming, and the sample can be used in regular operation if it’s not defective.

Why is destructive testing important?

Destructive testing is a crucial step in manufacturers' design and production process. With DT, it is possible to identify breaking points and weaknesses that are not visible during regular use. This is vital for ensuring the safety and reliability of products and structures.

DT also helps manufacturers optimize the design and production of products, resulting in more cost-effective solutions. Its goal is to identify any flaws or weaknesses that could impact performance or safety. By understanding these weaknesses, engineers can design safe and reliable products.

DT is often used along with non-destructive testing methods. It is beneficial during specific stages in the design and production process and during quality control and safety inspections.

Common methods of destructive testing

Different destructive testing methods are designed to evaluate specific properties or characteristics of a product or material. Some common methods are:

Tensile (elongation) testing

Tensile testing evaluates materials' strength and other properties by applying a controlled force until it breaks. This process helps determine the material's maximum strength, elongation, breaking strength, and size reduction.

The resulting data calculates physical properties such as Young's modulus, Poisson's ratio, yield strength, and strain-hardening characteristics. These are essential for engineers to consider when selecting materials for use in high-stress situations.

Torsion testing

Torsion testing determines how well a material withstands twisting forces. It is similar to tensile testing but measures the material's ability to handle torsional forces. The point where the material twists and breaks are called the failure point, which helps determine the material's suitability for specific uses.

Stress testing

Stress testing involves putting a component through stress to see how it holds up. This includes applying forces like torsion, compression, and tension to mimic the stress a component experiences during regular use.

Stress testing is crucial for ensuring the safety and reliability of components in industries like manufacturing, transportation, and energy. Carefully analyzing a component's reaction to stress allows the identification of vulnerabilities or areas for improvement before failure.

Bend testing

Bend test evaluates a material's ability to flex without breaking by bending a specimen over a specific diameter to a certain angle for a certain period. The material exhibits good flexibility if there are no cracks on the stressed side of the sample. However, if a significant crack is present, it lacks flexibility.

This test is a quick and cost-effective way to ensure the quality and reliability of welded joints.

Corrosion testing

Corrosion testing is a procedure that helps determine the durability and reliability of metal components. It involves evaluating corrosion-resistant measures and measuring the corrosion rate in different environments.

This helps prevent metal components from rusting, tarnishing, and pitting. These tests are often conducted on critical infrastructure and equipment, such as pipelines, bridges, and aircraft.

Common corrosion testing methods include salt spray testing, electrochemical corrosion testing, and humidity testing.

Hardness testing (HT)

Hardness testing is crucial to determine material resistance to permanent deformation under pressure. In addition, it measures how well a material withstands indentation, which is essential for predicting long-term durability and performance.

This testing method is essential for many industries, including manufacturing, construction, and automotive. It helps identify wear resistance, scratch resistance, and stress tolerance. Many hardness testing methods are available, such as Rockwell, Brinell, and Vickers.

Aggressive environment testing

This testing method uses fracture and fatigue testing to simulate corrosive environments and high temperatures and pressures.

By using aggressive environmental testing, you can ensure that your materials handle the demands of their operating environment, whether a beach house in a salty, humid climate or an oil rig in a sour, high-pressure environment.

Residual stress measurement

Residual stress measurement is the act of identifying stress in a material without external loads. This stress leads to plastic deformation, warping, fatigue, and distortion, making it essential for engineers and designers to evaluate extreme load conditions.

Common techniques for measuring residual stress include X-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction, and synchrotron diffraction. These methods reveal potential flaws in vital components, ensuring overall proper performance.

Metallurgical analysis

Metallurgical analysis is a crucial tool for analyzing metal parts and components. By examining metal microscopic, engineers can identify flaws and evaluate the microstructure to ensure it meets specific standards. This process involves cutting, polishing, mounting, and grinding the metal and includes etching for additional insight.

It also helps to determine the root cause of failures, such as corrosion or stress cracking, and detect trace contaminants that lead to part failure. Using this, engineers can take steps to prevent future problems.

Which industries use destructive testing?

Destructive testing is used to ensure their products' safety and durability. From aerospace and automotive to chemical and construction, these industries rely on destructive testing to identify weaknesses or vulnerabilities.

Additionally, defense, electrical engineering, and fabrication industries utilize it to ensure the reliability and performance of their products.

Infrastructure, manufacturing, oil and gas, petrochemical, pipeline, and power generation industries rely on destructive testing to ensure their products meet industry standards and regulations.

Examples of destructive testing by industry

Some examples of how destructive testing is used in industries are:

  • For example, businesses in the aerospace industry use fatigue testing to evaluate the durability and strength of aircraft components. This involves subjecting a component to repeated loading and unloading to assess its resistance to fatigue failure or bending, tensile, and impact testing on materials.
  • The automotive industry uses destructive testing to determine the quality and strength of various components, such as tires, brakes, and engines. These include fatigue, impact, and compression tests.
  • In the electronics industry, destructive testing is used to evaluate the reliability and durability of electronic components. This involves thermal cycling, which subjects a component to high and low temperatures.
  • In the food industry, destructive testing is essential to evaluate food products' shelf life and quality. This involves accelerated aging testing, which subjects a product to extreme temperature and humidity conditions to determine its shelf life.
  • Destructive testing is used in the construction industry to evaluate the strength and durability of building materials. These tests include compression, tension, and flexure tests to ensure that structures withstand the forces while in use.
  • In the packaging industry, destructive testing is used to evaluate the strength and durability of packaging materials. This involves drop testing, which subjects a package to repeated drops from various heights.
  • In the renewable energy industry, DT helps evaluate the strength and durability of wind turbines and solar panels. This involves vibration testing, which subjects a component to simulated wind or earthquake conditions to measure resistance.
  • The oil and gas industry uses destructive testing to ensure the safety and reliability of equipment. This includes testing the strength and durability of pipeline materials or evaluating storage tanks' performance.

Who performs destructive testing?

Destructive testing is performed in-house by an organization with the necessary facilities and expertise or outsourced to external service providers.

The process is carried out in-house if a company owns and operates its facilities for destructive testing.

Alternatively, a company hires external services to test its machinery. Material testing service providers often have a selection of materials whose physical properties are tested and recorded. In the United States, businesses use Nadcap-certified material testing laboratories for destructive testing.

Specialized researchers, scientists, and technicians conduct destructive testing. They are chosen based on specific requirements.

Some familiar experts who are involved in destructive testing include:

  • Failure analysis experts
  • Material scientists
  • Regulatory compliance experts
  • Chemists
  • Electrochemical process experts
  • Metallurgical and polymer engineers
  • Quality control analysts

Destructive testing and equipment reliability

Machine reliability is critical in ensuring the smooth operation of industrial or consumer products.

One way to ensure this is to use high-quality components during manufacturing. This means only components subjected to destructive testing and having the necessary physical characteristics are used in the final product.

In addition to using high-quality components, good product design is also essential. This includes incorporating fault tolerance and other best practices. As a result, manufacturers can minimize the risk of failure and ensure reliable products.

While even the best quality items will eventually succumb to regular wear and tear, maintenance teams use non-destructive testing to keep an eye on the condition of their assets. Monitoring the equipment lifecycle, maintenance teams identify problems before they become significant.

How does an EAM solution help with destructive testing?

Enterprise asset management (EAM) software significantly improves the efficiency and effectiveness of destructive testing with a central database for storing and accessing data, streamlining maintenance processes, and generating reports with maintenance KPIs.

With an EAM system, you can set up, schedule, and track a preventive maintenance program, increasing uptime for your destructive testing equipment.

An EAM solution like Facilio helps keep your data safe and secure. It allows you to access the most up-to-date information in real-time, rather than worrying about lost paperwork or outdated spreadsheets. Furthermore, it helps track progress and generate reports on crucial maintenance metrics, ensuring that all preventive maintenance work orders are completed efficiently.

Overall, an EAM solution helps your organization achieve better results and improved performance through more efficient and effective DT processes.

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