What Are the Impacts of Tensile Testing in Military Applications?

Samantha Rogers
on June 17, 2022
Texture of tank side wall, made of metal and reinforced with a multitude of bolts and rivets

The Military Industry is one of those sectors that is utterly reliant on their ability to produce and field assets made from the best possible quality. After all, the very nature of their services demands optimum performance under all possible conditions to ensure the safety and security of all servicemen.

There is no doubt that Tensile Testing can contribute towards that goal. The only question is exactly in what ways the testing procedure can be useful in military applications.

Regulations and Complying with Them

Again, due to the nature of the industry, it is of no surprise that the military sector is a heavily regulated field. This is because much of the equipment used in the military is used in situations where a single critical failure can lead to damages, injuries, and death. And depending on the situation, there is the potential for severe failure.

For example, military-grade fasteners are often used to secure vital assets such as aircraft, tanks, reactors, medical equipment, and other important applications. If any of these fasteners were to fail in securing a critical military asset, that could either render the asset inoperable or hazardous to everyone within its vicinity.

Military branches like the US Armed Forces also must contend that they have to submit to international legislation, which requires the proper storage and security of weapons, ammunition, and other military gear. There are even countries that outright forbid the deployment of environmentally hazardous assets, like nuclear reactors, if they fail to comply with their laws. For this reason, any branch of the military would require manufacturers to strictly adhere to regulatory requirements.

Complying with regulations will then necessitate product tests. By subjecting materials to stress and other environmental hazards under controlled conditions, a manufacturer will be able to determine whether or not their products can meet the standards of their client.

Choosing Materials and Treatment 

Aside from an optimized production process, the overall product quality is determined by the reliability of the materials used to create it. Of course, quality is not only assured through the appearance and integrity of the object as it rolls out of the production facility. That product has to be tested to see if it maintains a high level of sturdiness, reliability, and integrity if subjected to stress and other hazards.

A tensile test will help a manufacturer determine which material is best used for a specific application. Aside from that, the test will determine the kind of treatment to further enhance the strength of the material.

For instance, the very clothing of soldiers was subjected to a series of tensile tests. Due to these tests, it was discovered that fabrics spun by a ring had higher resistance to tearing than rotor-spun fabrics. However, the latter had a higher tensile strength at the warp, which made them ideal for straps.

Of course, tensile tests are not only for pre-production materials and treatment selection. They are also used for verification processes to determine if the equipment provided by a manufacturer will function as advertised. Material tests like the tensile testing process will yield information such as structural integrity, composition, and mechanical reliability.

Soldier wearing military clothing getting ready

Improving Product Design

Material testing services can also be called upon whenever there is a need to improve an existing product design. The goal here is to evaluate an existing product on its mechanical aspects such as tensile strength, impact resistance, fracture propagation, and elasticity.

These tests can help determine which aspects of a product’s design need improvement. For instance, the straps of a parachute might show a tendency under testing towards breaking from intense tensile stress at high altitudes. Thus, changing the design might prevent the component from pulling itself apart when the equipment is deployed.

A variant of the tensile test can also be applied in this situation, known as the Creep Test. Here, the material is subjected to a constant level of tensile stress and changing environmental factors over a long period. The goal here is to determine the point at which the stress and environmental factors can cause the material to break. From that, the manufacturer can find a way to improve the design by adding new protective layers or changing the overall profile of the product.

The manufacturer can also determine if the current treatment method is effective for the product’s current design. Corrosion testing will simulate environments with high saline content or humidity levels that tend to accelerate deterioration in equipment. From this, the manufacturer can determine whether the standard treatments are enough or if newer layers of coating are needed to enhance the durability of their products.

This phase will also allow the manufacturer to conduct an ancillary microanalysis test. This non-destructive test will peer into the molecular composition of the product itself to see if there are any inherent flaws or inconsistencies.


Did You Know?

A parachute is expected to open once your body is falling at speeds of 27 meters per second. That is a tensile stress equal to 3 Gs or three times the normal pull of gravity.


The Production Process

Since manufacturers of military equipment are expected to operate under the highest possible standards, they are also expected to change their production process to comply with regulations. And aside from compliance, improving the production process does tend to ensure safety in the facility, minimize waste, and prevent extensive damage in case problems arise.

Tensile tests can be performed during pre-production to evaluate a current system. A key test to be performed here is failure analysis, which helps in identifying when the process will produce defective products or suffer a delay-causing mechanical problem. The data provided by these tests will help the manufacturer determine which parts of their production process need to improve upon to ensure that their facilities consistently produce military gear of reliable quality.

engineering testing machine, tensile strength test in preparation stage

To Summarize

A simple tensile test, applied in specific situations, can help a military manufacturer improve several aspects of their production process. From the quality of the materials and components to how these raw materials are processed, material tests can ensure that whatever military asset produced by these facilities is safe and can be relied on when the situation demands its usage.


Samantha Rogers

Samantha Rogers, Technical Writer

“Samantha is experienced in the automotive and plastics industries and the in-depth analysis of their mechanical properties. She is knowledgeable about managing, instructing, and maintaining high levels of standards in a quality control facility.”


*This article is the work of the guest author shown above. The guest author is solely responsible for the accuracy and the legality of their content. The content of the article and the views expressed therein are solely those of this author and do not reflect the views of Matmatch or of any present or past employers, academic institutions, professional societies, or organizations the author is currently or was previously affiliated with.

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