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Material Property Assessment Laboratory (MPAL)

The Material Property Assessment Laboratory (MPAL) develops leading solutions for diverse fields to optimize the performance of materials in many applications.

There’s a common saying “use the right tools for the job.” Do you ever hear use the right materials? Whenever we’re developing new products or performing failure analysis we need to understand the suitability of a chosen material and assess how it behaves under various conditions.

MPAL specializes in assessing these properties and behaviours by working very closely with industry and academia to select application-specific standard solutions to assessing materials. We also develop brand-new testing methods where established standards fall short of our partner’s needs.

Our Facilities

In our laboratories, we work with leading equipment that allow us to perform research on materials across a broad variety of applications.

Below, you'll find a list of services and equipment we use to complete our analysis and research.

The fully calibrated and CSA approved DuraScan 50 (G5 series) hardness tester can be used to test the hardness of metals and plastic material according to the following methods:

▪ Vickers ISO 6507, ASTM E384, ASTM E92

▪ Knoop ISO 4545, ASTM E384, ASTM E92

▪ Brinell ISO 6506, ASTM E10

Standards-compliant conversion options are available on the machine that can convert the Vickers hardness values to Brinell hardness, Rockwell hardness, Superficial hardness, Knoop hardness, Scleroscope hardness, and Leeb hardness for various materials. The conversion tables are applied based on following standards: DIN EN 50150, ASTM E140, DIN EN ISO 18265. The Vickers load range that can be used ranges from 0.01-62.5 kg (0.098-612.9 N).

In addition to single point measurements, the equipment allows for series, case hardness depth (ISO 2639), nitriding hardness depth (DIN 50190-3) and surface hardness (edge hardness) depth measurements (DIN EN 10328).

Software module includes additional tools for area-based tests on a specimen. Including mapping functions (diagram shows the hardness spreading on the tested area) and automated scanning of the edges of the specimen.

The Fracture Software module allows for determination of the fracture toughness of carbides and ceramic metals according to Palmqvist ISO 28079 and Nihara ISO14627

The test cycle from setting the indent through to displaying the hardness value is always performed fully automatically, thereby eliminating operator effects to the greatest possible extent.

For more information, please contact Dr. Bipasha Bose at


  • NanotestTwo Loading Heads: Micro (0.1-20N) and Nano (10 mN -500 mN)
  • Nano-/micro -indentation
  • Nano-/micro- scratch
  • Nano-impact
  • High temperature capability
  • Property Mapping


  • Fast measurements with ISO 14577 standard
  • Sinusoidal loading (sinus mode)
  • Multi-cycle loading
  • User defined profile
  • Target specific indentation
  • User Friendly
  • Compatible for measurements in liquids



  • Mico-/Macro- scratch and Wear test
  • Conventional hardness measurements
  • Toughness Measurements
  • Critical load to failure, frictional force, co-efficient of friction and penetration depth determination
  • Panoramic imaging directly synchronized with scratch


  • Heavy load up to 2000 Newtons
  • High-temperature up to 1000 °C
  • Custom developed to mimic the tool-chip interface in machining.
  • The tool is simulated by a ball-tipped carbide pin, coated or uncoated, which interacts with a sample of work material.


  • The industry standard for friction, wear and lubrication measurement, and conforms to requirements of standards.
  • Minimized thermal drift with two friction force sensors and symmetric elastic arm
  • Environmental condition monitoring in real-time with integrated temperature and humidity sensors
  • Ultimate testing parameters control and cutting-edge data analysis with Tribometer software
  • Fast and easy contact mechanics simulation by Modelization software
  • Some Applications:
    • Thin films (protective or decorative hard coatings)
    • Metals (bulk, advanced alloys, metallic composites)
    • Polymers (bulk polymers, polymeric coatings)
    • Lubrication system (fluid or solid lubricants)
    • Automotive (coatings, bulk materials, engine oils)
    • Optical coatings (antireflective coatings)
    • Biomaterials (hard implants, soft implants, stents)
    • Pharmaceutical (medicaments)
    • Other (thermal spray coatings, ceramic tiles, etc.)



  • Automatic laser alignment
  • Large scan area in all directions combined with the highest accuracy
  • The easiest engagement procedure on the AFM market
  • Compatible with all cantilevers
  • State-of-the-art sample navigation
  • Workflow-oriented control and analysis software which meets the demands of industry
  • Applications by Industrial Segments: 
    • Chemicals
    • Paint & coatings
    • Rubber & plastics
    • Electronics
    • Metal
    • Non-metal
    • Petroleum
    • Textile
    • Life science


Full tool measurement and 3D rendering of small parts.

Surface finish and form characterization with real time depth composition

MPAL has the capability to completely characterize a wide range of coatings to aid new coating development as well as existing coating modification and quality control activities tailored to specific applications.

MMRI is equipped with a Hybrid R&D PVD coating machine that can deposit a wide range of coatings using two arcs and a sputtering deposition source. Thin metallic or ceramic coatings are known to improve the superficial properties of a variety of materials, such as metals, ceramics, composites and polymers. Coatings are commonly applied to increase life and improve performance of tools and components used in many industries.

Our team specializes in development of custom coatings, as well as providing coating recommendations based on application. Services provided by the coating development team are as follows:

  • Custom coating development for tools and components which can be used for different applications from wear resistant coatings to optical coatings.
  • Coating selection and optimization based on the required properties.
  • Coating characterization using a wide range of characterization techniques.
  • Available coatings include but are not limited to: TiN, CrN, TiAlN, TiAlCrN, AlCrN, duplex treatment and plasma nitriding.

Through our connection with McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI), we have access to a broad variety of equipment and facilities housed in other laboratories. A full list is available on the MMRI Website.

Work With Us

The Material Property Assessment Laboratory works closely with both industry and academia. We have worked on both short-term and long-term projects, for both R&D and technology transfer projects.

Examples of short term projects:

  • Quick testing on clients’ in-house material
  • Failure Analysis

 Examples of long term projects:

  • In depth assessment on clients’ in-house material
  • Development of material specific testing methods
  • Step by step testing for development of new materials (coatings, films, additive manufactured parts, architectured material, alloys etc.)
  • Any other in-depth multi-year R&D projects


Industrial and academic collaboration is at the core of our work. It is also possible to collaborate through many government assisted programs. Please contact the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute for more details.


Upcoming Events

Material Characterization of High Performance Athletic Footwear

Traction, cushioning and stiffness are key materials properties that ensure a successful performance in spports. Come and see Prof. Chawla's talk on recent developments in athletic footwear and understand the science beneath your feet!

DATE: April 7, 2021


Speaker: Professor Nikilesh Chawla, School of Materials Engineering, Purdue University

Register Here

Past Events

Advanced Creep Tests Webinar

Advanced Creep Testing - Get to know ZwickRoell's Sophisticated Test Equipment (General 8.2)

The Material Property Assessment Lab (MPAL) of McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) offers cutting edge technologies to support advanced materials research. Our partner Anton Paar is hosting a webinar which focuses on some of these technologies that allow for the determination of many key engineering parameters.

In this webinar, you will learn why advanced creep testing is used and what the requirements are, why temperature measurement and control are crucial, and what the main components of a sophisticated creep testing system are, as well as how a typical advanced creep testing system is set up.

DATE: November 24, 2020

TIME: 11:00 am ET

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Leitgeb-Simandl, Sales and Project Engineer, Zwick Roell

Register Here

High-Temperature Testing Webinar

High-temperature Tensile Testing of Metallic Materials according to ISO 6892-2 incl. Strain Rate Control (General 11.2)

The Material Property Assessment Lab (MPAL) of McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) offers cutting edge technologies to support advanced materials research. Our partner Anton Paar is hosting a webinar which focuses on some of these technologies that allow for the determination of many key engineering parameters.

In this webinar, you will learn why temperature and strain rate control is important for high-temperature tensile tests on metallic materials to ISO 6892-2, and how ZwickRoell’s high-temperature testing systems meet these requirements.

DATE: November 25, 2020

TIME: 11:00 am ET

Speaker: Dr. Thomas Leitgeb-Simandl, Sales and Project Engineer, Zwick Roell

Register Here

Microcomposite Materials Webinar

Microcomposite Materials: Measuring Mechanical Properties and Surface Topolgraphy for Improved Product Performance

The Material Property Assessment Lab (MPAL) of McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) offers cutting edge technologies to support advanced materials research. Our partner Anton Paar is hosting a webinar which focuses on some of these technologies that allow for the determination of many key engineering parameters.

Every specifically-engineered microcomposite must be able to be tested rapidly and repeatedly to analyze the key physical properties that allow it to perform its task. Analysis of properties such as surface roughness, mechanical hardness, elastic modulus, electrical conductivity, scratch resistance, friction properties and others can have a direct impact on the final performance and service life of a product or its components.

This live presentation will focus on cutting edge technologies that allow for the determination of many key engineering parameters within not only bulk materials, but also in finely divided composites.

Methods discussed will include instrumented indentation, dynamic mechanical analysis, nanoscratch, and tribology, as well as electronic, magnetic and surface probing via atomic force microscopy. This webinar is ideal for in the materials engineering, packaging, polymer, additive manufacturing and aerospace communities.

DATE: August 24, 2020

TIME: 1:00 - 2:00 pm EDT

Speaker: Dr. Dan Hudgins, Lead Scientist, Surface Characterization, Anton Paar USA

Dr. Dan Hudgins is the Lead Scientist for the Surface Characterization business unit at Anton Paar USA and brings significant expertise in an array of industries and applications, including pulp and paper converting, nanomaterial discovery, explosives detection and polymer engineering. Dr. Hudgins received his bachelor's degree in Biology from Randolph-Macon College and his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University



Register Here

Atomic Force Microscopy Seminar

Atomic Force Microscopy Seminar

Material Property Assessment Workshop

Friday, May 3, 2019, 10 am to 4 pm, McMaster University

In new component design or failure investigation, no matter the aim, the properties of the chosen material for the intended application play a very vital role, perhaps the most vital role. Therefore, it is very important to have the right tools to assess these material properties. For industry, it is also very important to do it efficiently – faster and cheaper. Our aim for this workshop is to share some very useful techniques for material property assessment and their applications. Some of these techniques even have the potential to replace expensive and time-consuming field trials. 

10:00 am: Keynote Speaker - Nicolas Conte (BSB 136 at McMaster University)

Nicolas ConteMr. Nicolas Conte is currently Product Manager for Scratch and Calotest instruments at Anton Paar. Before product management, he was also Quality Manager and Customer Service Manager at Anton Paar.  He is also involved in the ISO 14577 working group on instrumented indentation test. Mr. Conte has a Mechanical Engineer diploma, a MSc in Materials Science & Engineering and 19 years of experience in indentation, scratch and tribology fields.

Abstract - Advanced mechanical surface characterization

This lecture provides an overview of the most important techniques for mechanical surface characterization (indentation, scratch and tribology) followed by numerous case studies covering various applications. Instrumented indentation testing is an essential tool for evaluating thin films, coatings, and surface layers which are used to improve mechanical performance and longevity. Scratch testing is widely used for assessing adhesion strength of coating–substrate systems as well as scratch and mar resistance for research and quality control. And tribometer is used to study interacting surfaces in relative motion, and in practice studying friction, wear and lubrication.

1:00 pm: Hands-On Demonstrations (JHE 112 at McMaster University)

  Hands-on demonstrations on our AFM, Nanoindenter, Tribometer and Scratch Tester instruments

Free Registration Here


“Longan Vision has been working with the MMRI for nearly 3 years developing a one-of-a-kind augmented reality coating. The coating is designed for extreme temperatures and environments for first responders. Without the researchers at MMRI and the funding available through the SONAMI program Longan Vision would not have succeeded in this development. The coating developed is used in the production of Longan Vision’s flagship product called the Fusion Vision System, a head mounted augmented reality device for firefighters. The Fusion Vision System provides firefighters the ability to see through smoke, navigate in dark and dimly lit places and to locate victims more effectively. Without this coating the Fusion Vision System could not be taken into a fire scenario at all. Overall, working with the MMRI has been easy, effective and has supported the continued growth of Longan Vision.”

Alex Shortt
CTO, Longan Vision

“We would like to thank you for your excellent service to our organization. Our team are impressed by the timely support you provided and the speed in which you provided the Reports. We originally requested reports for some specific tests and required many iterations. Your suggestion to include additional specialized techniques to the report has been greatly appreciated and may be the key. It may eliminate countless hours of testing at our facility and complete our project sooner.

Thanks again for all your help.”

Eddie Del Zotto
Strategic Sourcing Specialist

Contact Us

If you're interested in partnering with MPAL, or simply have questions about our facilities and capabilities, please reach out to us.

Mailing Address:

Department of Mechanical Engineering (JHE-310)
McMaster University
1280 Main Street West
Hamilton, ON Canada L8S 4L7