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NPL Acquires Novel Mechanical Test Equipment to Characterise Additively Manufactured Metals

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK’s national metrology institute, recently added to its testing capability by acquiring an Indentation Plastometer from Plastometrex. The novel testing technology is powered by advanced algorithms which enable it to extract metal stress-strain curves from a 5-minute indentation-based test. NPL is using the device to rapidly characterise the mechanical properties of metallic materials, including those made via additive manufacturing (AM).

Ideally Suited to Testing AM Materials

The Plastometer is ideally suited to testing AM materials because of its unique ability to test small and complex shapes, both quickly and affordably. These benefits render the technology a powerful enabler for the adoption of additive manufacturing, providing users with the data they need to make confident and informed engineering decisions. Initially, NPL will be utilising the technology to test the strength of complex lattice structures and small parameter cube samples made by laser powder bed fusion.

Tony Fry, Principal Scientist at NPL had this to say about the acquisition: “The Indentation Plastometer allows us to characterise the properties of finely structured parts in an entirely new way. The data allows us to build up a more comprehensive picture of the properties of parts made via additive manufacturing, deepening our understanding of the process.”

Plastometrex and NPL are working on several projects. These include supporting the standardisation of the technology, utilising the tool in the AM market, and the development of Plastometrex’s upcoming high-temperature system, HotPIP.

Professor Bill Clyne, Chief Scientific Officer at Plastometrex, had this to say about the relationship: “We are delighted to be working with NPL, a world-leading organisation in this field. We are looking forward to collaborating with them on several projects that push the frontier of measurement technology for the benefit of the economy and the environment.”

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