Sheffield Forgemasters has been granted a coveted material testing accreditation for civil nuclear applications and its work on the UK submarine programme.
The company has secured Fracture Toughness certifications, ASTM E1820-20b and ASTM E1921-20 by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), making it one of a handful of UK organisations with this level of qualification.
Securing the accreditation required significant spending on new testing equipment and the establishment of highly complex processes to undertake the tests.
The company passed the accreditation at its first time of evaluation.
Research, design and technology director, Jesus Talamantes-Silva, said: “Securing the Fracture Toughness accreditations to these levels is a significant milestone for our test-house facility and will improve our testing time-frames and dramatically reduce costs.
“Prior to this certification, we were subjected to long waiting times on test pieces that were sent out of the company and the costs of outsourcing such tests were significant.
“These tests are crucial in the production of many safety-critical components that we manufacture, including those used in defence and civil nuclear power applications.”
UKAS is the national accreditation body for the United Kingdom, appointed by government, to assess organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services and it lists Sheffield Forgemasters as an accredited testing laboratory on its website.
Mr Talamantes-Silva continued: “This capability is almost non-existent in the UK and we can use the testing for not only production work, but also in the R&D process, helping to define material characteristics for specific applications.”
The tests can be carried out on materials at both high and low temperatures and Sheffield Forgemasters stipulated their own specifications for the testing machines, altering them to account for higher forces required to test welded materials.
The team is also adopting digital image correlation as a new way to monitor and measure the fracture testing.
The tests are carried out by the deliberate creation of a microscopic crack in the test material, which is then forced to propagate, allowing the determination of a fracture toughness parameter, which can be used as a safety parameter in the design of nuclear components.
Funding for the R&D elements of the Fracture Toughness project was part funded under the £26 million Advanced Manufacturing and Materials Programme as part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s £505 million Energy Innovation Programme.