Material Property Assessment Laboratory – Faculty of Engineering

Material Property Assessment Laboratory (MPAL)

  • MPAL Monthly Talk Series

    Join us at McMaster University, on the last Wednesday of each month to learn more about MPAL our research and partnership capabilities. 12-2 PM.

Our facilities

In our laboratories, we work with leading equipment that allows 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.

Micro Hardness Tester Demonstration

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

Micro materials nano Test
  • Two 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
Anton Paar NHT3 Nano-Indentation
  • 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
Anton Paar Revetest Scratch Tester
  • Micro-/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.
Standard Tribometer
  • 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
Alicona Infinite Focus microscope
  • Full tool measurement and 3D rendering of small parts.
Keyence Digital Microscope
  • 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.
  • Fast measurements
  • Conforms to ISO 14577
  • Dynamic indentation testing
  • Stress-Strain by spherical indentation
  • Creep analysis
  • Phase Identification and Evaluation
  • Target specific indentation
  • Nano-/micro-indentation, micro-scratch, micro impact, and fatigue testing
  • Temperatures up to 1200°C
  • °Cold stage down to -30°C
  • Strong vacuum chamber
  • Two loading heads ( 300mN-30N) (10µN -500 mN)
  • Property Mapping
  • Conforms to ISO-14577 (1 – 4)
  • High-temperature testing up to 1200°C
  • Low-temperature testing down to -70°C
  • Loads up to 250kN
  • Fast testing speed
  • Standard Tensile, compression, and bend testing on
  • various plastics, metals, composites, building
  • materials, etc.
  • Meets the tensile, compression, and flexure testing standards for various materials, including ISO 527-1&2, ISO 6892-1&2&3, ISO 178, etc.
  • Testing of metallic hollow specimens under compressed hydrogen.
  • Various holding grip- Accommodates different types of samples
  • Secondary Electron Resolution: 3nm (accelerating voltage 30kV, WD=5mm, high vacuum) 5nm (accelerating voltage 1kV, WD=5mm, high vacuum)
  • Backscattered Electron Resolution: 3nm (accelerating voltage 30kV, WD=5nm, low vacuum)
  • Large >200mm Specimen Chamber
  • 5-axis Motorized Computer Eucentric Stage (100mm x 50mm)
  • Accommodates 200mm Diameter Specimens (max. 80mm height)
  • Energy Dispersive X-ray Microanalysis System

Collaborate with us

Industrial and academic collaboration is at the core of our work. We have worked on both short-term and long-term projects, for both R&D and technology transfer projects.

It is also possible to collaborate through many government assisted programs. Please contact the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute for more details.


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


  • 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

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 (MMRI)
McMaster Innovation Park
230 Longwood Road South
Hamilton, ON Canada L8P A06