One-stop shop for materials selection, design, testing, measurement and advice

Cambridge, 18 September NPL Materials Centre in partnership with Granta Design Ltd., leading exponents of interactive material databases and computer-based systems for materials and process selection, are developing an integrated, fully searchable website incorporating key information on materials measurement technology and testing. The work is supported by the DTI and will incorporate key NPL information on materials measurement, electronic publications as well as NPL data and a directory of experts linked.

Initially three NPL databases, 100 Measurement Notes, and 20 Measurement Good Practice Guides will be available, together with an overview of materials measurement techniques and a database of experts. All of the information will be integrated into a single architecture with related topics linked together. The website could eventually contain all of NPL's core materials data and publications on testing and standards, in an easily searchable, integrated form. The databases initially available are:

MPOS (Mechanical Properties of Oxide Scales) Database—NPL has developed a database that contains mechanical property and related data for thermally grown oxide scales. MPOS contains data for oxide scales such as Al2O3, Cr2O3, Fe2O3, Fe3O4, FeO, NiO, M3O4, M2O3.

Duplex Database—NPL's database provides a rapid method of sourcing specific information on the performance of duplex stainless steels.

Environment Stress Cracking (ESC) Database, which has been developed at NPL to assist industry avoid the risk of failure due to ESC, which is responsible for 30% of all plastic failures.

Development of the web-based database will ensure:

  • Wider dissemination and promotion of NPL's materials measurement expertise, with experts linked directly to relevant technical information in the databases.
  • A single source for all materials relevant data
  • Access to previously unpublished NPL data
  • A modular platform for future expansion and input of other DTI-supported materials measurement data
  • An approach that could be adopted by other UK research organisations


For further information on this project and the activities of the NPL Materials Centre and Granta Design please contact:

Notes for Editors:

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the UK's national standards laboratory. The main focus of the work in the NPL Materials Centre is associated with developing test methods and materials measurement. The research activities, which are largely supported by DTI-funded programmes, involve considerable interaction and input with UK industry. A wide range of materials and processes are currently being examined including work to develop test methods and data for metals, ceramics, sensors, electronic materials, polymers, composites, coatings, adhesives, metal foams and functional materials; and with specific research topics covering metalforming, corrosion, oxidation, process modelling, thermophysical data, residual stresses and virtual modelling and testing.

NPL Materials Centre provides a wide range of materials testing services, from mechanical and environmental testing to process control, failure analysis and consultancy and currently employs over 70 scientific and technical staff. The NPL Knowledge Transfer Centre currently disseminates work from the Materials Measurement programme to over 17,500 contacts. This is completed through press activity, exhibitions, newsletters, and through relationships with other knowledge transfer partners including EPSRC, IOM and Faraday partnerships. In excess of 100 industrial collaborators are working within the Materials Measurement programme spanning all areas of research in addition to over 500 individuals involved with industrial advisory groups. Over 60 trade associations and professional bodies receive materials measurement information on a regular basis in turn passing this onto their entire memberships.

Granta Design Ltd. is a UK-based SME, spun-out of Cambridge University Engineering Department, with over 15 years experience in developing software for materials selection and databases. Granta provides software, data and consulting services, specialised in the area of materials information. Granta Design's core product is the Cambridge Engineering Selector, which implements the optimal material and process selection methodology developed by Professor Mike Ashby of Cambridge University.

Granta has a strategic partnership with ASM International (American Society for Materials) with whom it is developing an integrated, web-based materials information system.

Similar recent projects performed by Granta include:

  • 'Megabytes on Coppers' I and II CD-ROMs for Copper Development Association, 1994 & 1999
  • 'Steelspec' CD-ROM for UK Steel, 1999
  • Butterworth-Heinemann 'Engineering Materials Selector' CD-ROM, 1999
  • 'Desk Editions' CD-ROM and Web version, for ASM, 2001
  • 'Alloy Finder' CD-ROM and Web version, for ASM, 2001.
  • US MIL-HDBK-5 and 17, 2001