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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 equipment we use to complete our analysis and research.


  • 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

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.


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

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