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Compression Testing

The evaluation of the mechanical behavior of a sample under conditions of tension and
compression can be performed to provide basic material property data that is critical for
component design and service performance assessment. The requirements for tensile and
compression strength values and the methods for testing these properties are specified in various
standards for a wide variety of materials. Testing can be performed on machined material
samples or on full-size or scale models of actual components. These tests are typically performed
using a universal mechanical testing instrument.
An example of these tests is the compression test. A compression test is a method for
determining the behavior of materials under a compressive load. Compression tests are
conducted by loading the test specimen between two plates, and then applying a force to the
specimen by moving the crossheads together. During the test, the specimen is compressed, and
deformation versus the applied load is recorded. The compression test is used to determine
elastic limit, proportional limit, yield point, yield strength, and (for some materials) compressive
A compression test determines behavior of materials under crushing loads. The specimen
is compressed and deformation at various loads is recorded.
Compression testing is typically used to test materials such as plastics, elastomers,
rubber, composites, foam, rock, concrete and asphalt. It is rarely used to test metals.

Compression testing is also used in product testing to evaluate the behavior of finished products.
For example, a hypodermic needle may be pushed into a material to see how easily it penetrates
and to assess its sharpness.

Compression testing Machines

Compressive Strength - The compressive strength is the maximum compressive stress a
material is capable of withstanding without fracture. Brittle materials fracture during testing and
have a definite compressive strength value. The compressive strength of ductile materials is
determined by their degree of distortion during testing.
Elastic Limit - Elastic limit is the maximum stress that a material can sustain without permanent
deformation after removal of the stress.
Elongation - Elongation is the amount of permanent extension of a specimen that has been
fractured in a tensile test.
Modules of Elasticity - The modulus of elasticity is the ratio of stress (below the proportional
limit) to strain, i.e., the slope of the stress-strain curve. It is considered the measure of rigidity or
stiffness of a metal.
Proportional Limit - The proportional limit is the greatest amount of stress a material is capable
of reaching without deviating from the linear relation of the stress-strain curve, i.e. without
developing plastic deformation.
Reduction in Area- The reduction in area is the difference between the original cross-sectional
area of a tensile specimen and the smallest area at the after fracture following the test.
Strain - Strain is the amount of change in the size or shape of a material due to force.
Yield Point- The yield point is the stress in a material (usually less than the maximum attainable
stress) at which an increase in strain occurs without an increase in stress. Only certain metals
have a yield point.
Yield Strength - The yield strength is the stress at which a material exhibits a specified
deviation from a linear stress-strain relationship. An offset of 0.2% is often used for metals.
Ultimate Tensile Strength - Ultimate tensile strength, or UTS, is the maximum tensile stress a
material can sustain without fracture. It is calculated by dividing the maximum load applied
during the tensile test by the original cross sectional area of the sample.

Tensile and compression properties of raw material for comparison to product
Obtain material property data for finite-element modeling or other product design for
desired mechanical behavior and service performance
Simulation of component mechanical performance in service

Types of Compression Testing
Types of compression testing include:
Spring Testing
Benefits of Compression Testing
Compression testing provides data on the integrity and safety of materials, components and
products, helping manufacturers ensure that their finished products are fit-for-purpose and
manufactured to the highest quality.
The data produced in a compression test can be used in many ways including:
To determine batch quality
To determine consistency in manufacture
To aid in the design process
To reduce material costs and achieve lean manufacturing goals
To ensure compliance with international and industry standards
Materials under Compression
Certain materials subjected to a compressive force show initially a linear relationship between
stress and strain. This is the physical manifestation of Hooke's Law, which states:
E = Stress (s) / Strain (e)
Where E is known as Young's Modulus for compression. This value represents how much the
material will deform under applied compressive loading before plastic deformation occurs. A
material's ability to return to its original shape after deformation has occurred is referred to as its
elasticity. Vulcanized rubber, for instance, is said to be very elastic, as it will revert back to its
original shape after considerable compressive force has been applied.
Once a certain force or stress threshold has been achieved, permanent or plastic deformation will
occur and is shown on graphs as the point where linear behavior stops. This threshold is known
as the proportional limit and the force at which the material begins exhibiting this behavior is
called the yield point or yield strength. A specimen will then exhibit one of two types of
behavior; it will either continue to deform until it eventually breaks, or it will distort until flat. In
either case a maximum stress or force will be evident, providing its ultimate compressive
strength value.
Each of these parameters offers useful information relating to the physical characteristics of the
material in question.
Some materials, such as a PET bottle, distort during a compression test and are measured by the
degree of distortion, whereas other materials such as ceramics fracture produce a definitive
compressive strength value.

Compression Testing Standards
There are many standards for compression testing, developed by organizations such as ASTM,
They include:
ASTM D642 - Determining Compressive Resistance of Shipping Containers, Components and
Unit Loads
ASTM D695 - Compressive Properties of Rigid Plastics
ASTM D1621 - Compressive Properties of Rigid Cellular Plastics
Standard Description
ASTM D3574 Standard Test Methods for Flexible Cellular Materials Slab, Bonded, and
Method Urethane Foams
ASTM D773 Standard Test Method for Compressive (Crushing) Strength of Fired Whiteware
ASTM D575 Standard Test Methods for Rubber Properties in Compression
ASTM D695 Standard Test Method for Compressive Properties of Plastics
ASTM F-36 Standard Test Method for Compressibility and Recovery of Gasket Materials

Test Procedure, Specimen size and Shape.
Test Procedure:
The specimen is placed between compressive plates parallel to the surface. The specimen is then
compressed at a uniform rate. The maximum load is recorded along with stress-strain data. An
extensometer attached to the front of the fixture is used to determine modulus.
Specimen size:
Specimens can either be blocks or cylinders. For ASTM, the typical blocks are 12.7 x 12.7 x
25.4mm ( by by 1 in). and the cylinders are 12.7mm ( in) in diameter and 25.4mm (1 in)
long. For ISO, the preferred specimens are 50 x 10 x 4mm for modulus and 10 x 10 x 4mm for

Compressive strength and modulus are two useful calculations.

Compressive strength =
maximum compressive load
minimum cross-sectional area

Compressive modulus =
change in stress
change in strain