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What is Destructive Testing?


Destructive testing is undertaken in order to understand a specimen’s performance or material behaviour. Unlike with visual testing or digital radiography, these procedures are carried out to the test specimen’s failure. Destructive testing procedures can either follow specific standards or can be tailored to reproduce set service conditions.

Destructive testing methods are commonly used for materials characterisation, fabrication validation, failure investigation, and can form a key part of engineering critical assessments.

Types of Destructive Testing

Aggressive environment testing - includes fracture and fatigue testing in sour (H2S), sweet (CO2) and other corrosive environments; at a range of temperatures and pressures. These test allow industry to assess the impact of these conditions on materials and performance.

Corrosion testing - this covers non-toxic, small-scale, aqueous corrosion testing in a variety of different environments including fresh and sea water.

Fracture and mechanical testing - these tests include fracture toughness, pressure and tensile testing at a variety of strain rates and temperatures. They include different types of destructive testing methods including tension tests, bend tests, Charpy impact tests, Pellini drop weight testing, peel tests, crush testing, and fracture testing. As well as the testing of metals, fracture and mechanical tests can be carried out on different materials, such as welded polymers including plastic pipes.

Fatigue testing - performed in air or seawater environments, these tests are used to test parent materials and the endurance of welded joints under constant or variable amplitude loading. This destructive testing method can also be used for fatigue crack growth testing of welds, base metals, and heat affected zones.

Hydrogen testing - this type of testing covers materials that have a risk of corrosion from exposure to hydrogen. These tests can be carried out at a variety of different temperatures and strain rates.

Residual stress measurement - residual stresses are those that remain in a solid material after the original causes of any stresses have been removed. These can be intentional, such as with the scratch-resistant glass on smartphones, or unintentional which can lead to premature failure of a structure. Measurement of residual stresses allows for designers and engineers to determine factors like near-surface and through-thickness residual stress distribution, which can be used in engineering critical assessments.

Destruction Testing - Charpy Impact Testing at TWI

Charpy Impact Testing at The Test House

Advantages and Disadvantages of Destructive Testing


  • Allows engineers to roughly identify the properties of materials
  • Properties of the adhesive can also be identified and prepared
  • Comparatively cheaper than non-destructive testing
  • Many standards on destructive testing


  • Specimens which simulate the process cannot be reused once they’ve been tested
  • Doesn’t directly identify how the adhesion area of a bonded joint is affected


TWI's group company The Test House has one of the most definitive ranges of destructive testing services.

Find out more about The Test House's services

Non-Destructive Testing

TWI can also provide world leading expertise and services in non-destructive testing (NDT) technologies, handing hundreds of projects of this nature to our members every year.

Find out more about our NDT services

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