Construction materials testing is meant to safeguard design specifications and asset performance for use in a construction project.
There are two core parts of CMT: the materials themselves and the different types of tests they might require.
A number of different construction materials have to be tested as they are used for a construction project – especially a structural application like a building or bridge. Some of the most common construction materials include:
- Concrete: A composite material made of fine and coarse aggregate, water and cement. Concrete is the most widely used building materials.
- Mortar: A workable paste that hardens to bind building blocks (such as stones, bricks and CMUs). Mortar is also a mixture of sand and cement but is not used interchangeably with concrete. Mortar is never used in thick applications.
- Grout: A dense fluid used to fill gaps and reinforce structures. Grout is another mixture of water, cement and sand but, unlike mortar, it is not a binding material and only serves to fill gaps.
- Self-consolidating concrete: A concrete mix with low yield stress, high deformability, good segregation resistance and moderate viscosity. Also known as self-compacting concrete, self-consolidating concrete is used in building areas with a complex formwork – including columns, beams, foundations and other areas where flowing concrete is beneficial to concrete placement.
- Metals: Durable, flexible and reliable materials for buildings, including steel, aluminum, titanium, iron and copper.
- Hydraulic cement: Cement that sets and hardens by chemical reactions with water. Hydraulic cement is used for plugging water or fluid leaks in concrete structures and masonry walls.
- CLSM/Flowable fill: Controlled low-strength material (CLSM) is a self-compacted, runny concrete mix used in construction for non-structural purposes.
Construction materials can take many forms – also known as geometries. These include cylinders, cubes, prisms, beams, blocks, screws, bolts and much more.
Types of Material Testing
There are many different tests that might need to be performed for various construction materials and geometries. In general, there are six major tests:
- Compression: Pushing on a material until it breaks
- Tension: Pulling a material until it breaks
- Flexural: Bending a specimen until it breaks
- Modulus of Elasticity (MOE): Measuring a material’s resistance to deformation in response to a given force
- Poisson’s Ratio: Similar to MOE, measuring the resistance to deformation perpendicular to the direction of the force
- Tensile Splitting: Splitting a test specimen cylinder’s diameter vertically (lying on its side) to indirectly measure tensile strength
The Role of Construction Materials Testing Software
Construction materials testing is a tried-and-true process. You have a material you need to test and load it into the appropriate testing machine. You run the test, record the results and pass them to the next stakeholder.
However, the potential for human error is present in this manual workflow – putting not only design specs and asset performance at risk but also the safety of infrastructure. To combat this risk, testing professionals are turning to construction materials testing software – an integrated platform that consists of a private database, an interface for accessing and communicating with that database, and a way to integrate everything with the lab’s automatic testing machine.
An automatic materials testing workflow with CMT software eliminates manual, repetitive tasks and frees up technicians for more value-added tasks. Tests become consistent and reliable, results are more accurate and traceable, and analysis can happen at the click of a button.