Material testing involves processes to determine the physical and mechanical properties of materials, components, and final products. A variety of materials including plastics, metals, composites, textiles, and more are tested based on application and industry-specific guidelines. As it is crucial for our customers to decide whether to test in-house or at a testing facility, we laid out all the options and the top factors to consider with examples for specific industries below.

Material Testing Onsite vs. at a Testing Facility

Material testing can be performed: (1) onsite, where the material is used in the assembly, making, and shipping of the end-product, or (2) at a testing facility that is an independent or contracted test laboratory. Based on our experience with customers deciding between testing onsite or at a testing facility, we discuss the top 3 factors to consider in this blog post. Financials for both expenditures are explained in detail. The ADMET ROI Calculator is available for free here. You can use it to enter specific values based on your organization’s needs.

Top 3 Factors To Consider

  1. Time Required To Produce Test Data

The time required to produce test data, or the turnaround time, refers to the time spent for sample testing and gathering the test results.

    • Outsourcing at a testing facility to run tests for you will often yield a longer turnaround time due to the addition of:
      • days in shipping as samples need to be shipped to the testing laboratory,
      • days in queue at the test lab,
      • days in shipping when samples are sent back to the manufacturer.
    • Running testing at your facility with your own material testing equipment will allow you to manage your own testing and validation timelines. Gathering and acting on instant results gathered from onsite material testing operations have multiple advantages that benefit key processes in quality and manufacturing such as assembly lines, product quality control, and validation.

Organizations have different quality processes. A longer turnaround time may delay product validation and consequently shipment to your customer. Consider answering the following questions to determine whether outsourcing or running testing at your facility is more beneficial for your organization:

      • Is testing a one-time requirement or an ongoing need for your organization?
      • Is testing a key requirement to generate revenue in your organization?
      • If there is a delay in receiving test results, will that be disruptive to your organization?
  1. Financials

Scenario I: Outsourcing Costs

    • Outsourcing, or contracting a testing facility to run tests with your specimens, includes outsourced testing costs, holding cost of materials, and shipping costs
      • Total outsourced testing cost for the year is calculated by multiplying the number of tests by the cost of each test. Thus, the outsource cost will increase significantly if a variety of testing is needed.
      • The cost of holding material while waiting for test completion involves an estimate of the value of material(s) tied up, the number of weeks it is held in stock waiting for testing, and the annual cost of borrowing of the company. 
      • Shipping costs, insurance, and potential damages in transit are other important factors to consider when contracting a testing facility. Calculate the cost to ship specimens to the testing laboratory and also conduct a shipping cost analysis. Some questions worth discussion around this point include:
        • If specimens are damaged in transit, how will your organization be affected? 
        • How heavy/big are the specimens? 
        • Do specimens need to be tested and shipped back to your organization as soon as possible? 
        • Will expedited shipping be used? If used, what are the revised shipping costs? 
          • Consider this example: Your organization needs ASTM C1609 flexural testing and is deciding whether budgeting for a servo-controlled concrete testing machine for onsite testing or utilizing a testing facility to run this test. ASTM C1609 specimens are fiber-reinforced concrete samples with dimensions of either 4 by 4 by 14 inches or 6 by 6 by 20 inches. Thus these specimens are costly to ship out. In addition, test results need to be gathered and sent in order for the onsite constructions to pour concrete. Any delays in testing will result in other teams being held up, leading to further delays and increased costs.

Scenario II: Onsite Testing Costs

    • Onsite testing requires equipment, lab space, and people. Applicable costs include equipment and maintenance costs, cost to operate equipment, cost of space.
      • Equipment costs are dependent on your testing application. The required material testing machine could be an electromechanical or a hydraulic system. It could be a universal testing machine used to run a variety of static testing, a fatigue machine for cyclic testing, or an axial-torsion testing machine to run more specific tests. We also work with customers who own and use older testing machines with retrofitted components.
        • When considering budgeting for a testing machine, local management in your organization will need to provide information to the budget holder to release funds to capture the benefits of such an investment. An important consideration here is that major expenditures are driven by return on investment (ROI) rather than by whether it is covered by a budget. Building a credible ROI around whether investing in purchasing a material testing system or outsourcing tests at a testing facility can validate which option will benefit the company the most.
      • Material testing is a critical step in manufacturing and research and development. Test data and accuracy and reliability of results are of utmost importance to organizations. In order to ensure accuracy, organizations follow ASTM, ISO, and other certified calibration procedures and timelines. While most ASTM certifications require 12-month calibration intervals, certain other certifications may require shorter intervals and must be checked to calculate accurate maintenance costs
      • The cost to operate equipment involves operator costs or salaries. If the operation of a testing machine and/or software is not straightforward, further operator training may be needed and should be taken into account as well.
operator test setup 7601 manual vise grips

In-house testing: Operator mounting test specimen in vise grips on an eXpert 7602

      • Cost of space includes the facility or laboratory space for the testing activities to take place in. The testing equipment will require power to operate, thus an estimated cost for electricity must be calculated as well. 
        • An example to consider here is investing in a fatigue testing machine. Since fatigue tests require running constant tests, this expense may be significant in the organization’s electricity bill.

Material Testing Return On Investment (ROI)

The ADMET ROI Calculator can be accessed by clicking on the image below. Enter values based on your organization’s needs, including outsourcing costs, holding materials costs, and return costs. The ROI calculator then returns total dollar cost savings and indicative first-year return.

ROI Calculator Material Testing Machines

ROI Calculator – Testing In-house vs. At A Testing Facility Financials

3. Expanding Testing Capabilities

Universal testing machines are built to run a variety of testing. Having a testing system in-house will allow you to run different types of tests on different specimens without having to think about the logistics and costs of outsourcing. Examples below outline how organizations in the metals, plastics, and concrete industries have expanded the testing capabilities of their organizations by investing in one universal testing machine.

Metals Testing UTM: eXpert 2600 Configured for Metals Testing

UTM Wedge grips metals testing