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What is Compression Testing?

Compression tests are used to determine how a product or material reacts when it is compressed,
squashed, crushed or flattened by measuring fundamental parameters that determine the specimen behavior under a
compressive load. These include the elastic limit, which for "Hookean" materials is approximately equal to the
proportional limit, and also known as yield point or yield strength, Young's Modulus (these, although mostly
associated with tensile testing, may have compressive analogs) and compressive strength.
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 strength.
In some cases, compression testing is performed. For example, metal working processes (such as rolling)
involve compression, and to simulate this, compression tests are performed. Compression tests are also performed to
obtain true stress/strain data at strains beyond that possible by uniform elongation in a tensile test. However, care
must be taken to avoid specimen buckling, and friction effects at the specimen ends.
Compressive strength test, mechanical test measuring the maximum amount of compressive load a material
can bear before fracturing. The test piece, usually in the form of a cube, prism, or cylinder, is compressed between
the platens of a compression-testing machine by a gradually applied load.
Brittle materials such as rock, brick, cast iron, and concrete may exhibit great compressive strengths; but
ultimately they fracture. The crushing strength of concrete, determined by breaking a cube, and often called the
cube strength, reaches values of about 3 tons per square inch, and that of granite 10 tons per square inch.
Compression tests can be undertaken as part of the design process, in the production environment or in the
quality control laboratory, and can be used to:
 Assess the strength of components e.g. automotive and aeronautical control switches, compression
springs, bellows, keypads, package seals, PET containers, PVC / ABS pipes, solenoids etc.
 Characterize the compressive properties of materials e.g. foam, metal, PET and other plastics and
 Assess the performance of products e.g. the expression force of a syringe or the load-displacement
characteristics of a tennis ball

Types of Compression Testing
 Flexure/Bend
 Spring Testing
 Top-load/Crush

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
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
Each of these parameters offers useful information relating to the physical characteristics of the material in
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.

Applications of Compression Testing
Compression testing is used to guarantee the quality of components, materials and finished products within
a wide range industry. Typical applications of compression testing are highlighted in the following sections on:
 Aerospace and Automotive Industry
 Construction Industry
 Cosmetics Industry
 Electrical and Electronic Industry
 Medical Device Industry
 Packaging Industry
 Paper and Board Industry
 Plastics, Rubber and Elastomers Industry
 Safety, Health, Fitness and Leisure Industry

Compression Testing Standards
There are many standards for compression testing, developed by organizations such as ASTM, BS, DIN, ISO and MIL.
They include:
 ASTM C864-05, ASTM D575-91, D905-98, D1710-02, D6147-97, D6713-01, ASTM E9-89a, ASTM F628-06
 BS 7325:1990, BS EN 2591-612:2001, BS EN 12365-2:2003, BS EN 61300-2-11:1997, BS EN 61212-2:1996,
BS ISO 844:2001
 IEC 61300-2-11:199
 ISO 7743:2008, ISO 9895:1989, ISO 15527:2007

Why Perform a Compression Test?
The ASM Handbook®, Volume 8, Mechanical Testing and Evaluation states: "Axial compression testing is a
useful procedure for measuring the plastic flow behavior and ductile fracture limits of a material. Measuring the
plastic flow behavior requires frictionless (homogenous compression) test conditions, while measuring ductile fracture
limits takes advantage of the barrel formation and controlled stress and strain conditions at the equator of the
barreled surface when compression is carried out with friction. Variations of the strains during a compression test
Axial compression testing are also useful for measurement of elastic and compressive fracture properties of brittle
materials or low-ductility materials. In any case, the use of specimens having large L/D ratios should be avoided to
prevent buckling and shearing modes of deformation1."
Modes of Deformation in Compression Testing
The figure to the right illustrates the modes of deformation in
compression testing. (a) Buckling, when L/D > 5. (b) Shearing, when L/D >
2.5. (c) Double barreling, when L/D > 2.0 and friction is present at the
contact surfaces. (d) Barreling, when L/D < 2.0 and friction is present at the
contact surfaces. (e) Homogenous compression, when L/D < 2.0 and no
friction is present at the contact surfaces. (f) Compressive instability due to
work-softening material1.
Typical Materials
The following materials are typically subjected to a compression test.
 Concrete
 Metals
 Plastics
 Ceramics
 Composites
 Corrugated Cardboard

Procedure of Concrete Compression Test
1. Preparation: Check all the things you need are ready. Check concrete compression machine is in working
2. Safety: Wear hand gloves and safety goggles.
3. Taking measurement: Take the measurement of concrete specimens (which are sent to laboratory for
testing). Calculate the cross sectional area (unit should be on mm2) and put down on paper. Do the same
for each specimen.
4. Start machine: Turn on the machine. Place one concrete specimen in the centre of loading area.
5. Lowering piston: Lower the piston against the top of concrete specimen by pushing the lever. Don't apply
load just now. Just place the piston on top of concrete specimen so that it's touching that.
6. Applying load: Now the piston is on top of specimen. It is the time to apply load. Pull the lever into holding
position. Start the compression test by Pressing the zero button on the display board.
7. Increasing pressure: By turning pressure increasing valve counter-clockwise, adjust the pressure on piston
so that it matches concrete compression strength value. Apply the load gradually without shock.
8. Test is complete: Observe the concrete specimen. When it begins to break stop applying load.
9. Recording: Record the ultimate load on paper displaying on machine's display screen.
10. Clean the machine: When the piston is back into its position, clean the creaked concrete from the machine.
11. Turning off machine: Match your record once again with the result on display screen. The result should still
be on display screen. And then turn off the machine.
12. Calculate concrete compressive strength: The result we got from testing machine is the ultimate load to
break the concrete specimen. The load unit is generally in lb. We have to convert it in newton (N). Our
purpose is, to know the concrete compressive strength.

We know, compressive strength is equal to ultimate load divided by cross sectional area of concrete specimen.
We took the concrete specimen's measurement before starting the testing and calculated cross sectional area.
Now we got the ultimate load. So we can now calculate the concrete compressive strength. Compressive
strength = Ultimate load (N) / cross sectional area (mm2). The unit of compressive strength will be N/mm2.
Normally 3 samples of concrete specimens are tested and average result is taken into consideration. If any of
the specimen compressive strength result varies by more than 15% of average result, that result is rejected.