Used to evaluate static compression strength characteristics of materials, products & components


A compression test is one of the most fundamental mechanical tests that can be performed on a material, product, or component.

Our compression tests measure characteristics such as yield strength, ultimate strength, modulus of elasticity, and stress-strain. Each compression test machine is configured to your testing needs by our application engineers with the correct controller, grips, and accessories.

We have a wide range of compression testing equipment that can be configured for your exact application. Our team of compression testing experts is dedicated to helping you find the right solution that meets your specific requirements.

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Compression Test

What Is a Compression Test?

A compression test is a mechanical test that determines how a material such as aluminum or plastics behaves under a compression or crush force. The output of a compression test is a test report that characterizes compressive properties using stress and strain data.

Why Are Compression Tests Important?

Compression tests provide fundamental insights into a material's strength and stiffness as characterized by its ability to withstand compression or crush forces. This information is needed in virtually all mechanical products where strength and stiffness are design variables. Compression test properties make it possible to select and compare materials, design components, ensure quality, and prevent product failures.

Compression tests are commonly used for:

  • Material Selection - Compression test data enables comparison of different materials.
  • Design Engineering - Compression properties are used in design to predict how a component made from a specific material will behave.
  • Quality Control - Manufacturing processes can be improved using compression tests to ensure that materials consistently meet strength requirements.
  • Research and Development - compression testing characterizes new alloys, composites, and advanced materials, assessing their suitability for applications.
  • Process Improvement - Researchers use compression tests to understand how heat treatments, processing techniques, and changes in composition affect a material's mechanical properties.
  • Failure Analysis - Researching how and where materials fracture during compression tests provides valuable insights into failure mechanisms, improving material design.
  • Industry Compliance and Safety - Many industries have strict standards and regulations that require materials to undergo compression testing to ensure they meet design criteria.

What Are the Common Types of Compression Tests?

The different compression test standards change depending on the material type or sample geometry you are testing. These differences affect your test fixture choices, software calculations, and data analysis. Using our Newton controller, each test report can contain different data from one test sample to the next.

The common compression tests include:

  • Materials strength and characterization
  • Top-load/Crush Testing
  • ECT (Edge crush tests)
  • Compression spring testing
  • Product Tests of components & assemblies

These are just a few examples of compression testing applications:

Hydrogel Compression Test Foam Compression Test
Foam Compression Test Pillow Compression Test
Bucket Compression Test Pipe Compression Test

Compression Testing Test Results

Compressive Strength Tests measure and report the maximum stress a material can withstand before breaking. It's a single data point that's easy to test, to understand and to communicate. Depending on your software, the data can also be plotted as a force-deflection curve which helps provide warning signs about unusual sample behaviors.

In many scenarios, knowing compression strength is sufficient for design purposes. To the designer, if the selected material can withstand the expected tension stresses without breaking, the details of its deformation behavior are not considered critical.

A test machine configuration focused exclusively on Compression strength is a lower cost simpler way to test. You can still compare different materials and perform basic design calculations.

Compression Characterization Tests describe the material properties with the intent to understand its behavior under compression stress. Mechanical behaviors can be complex and informative. They include key parameters such as compression strength, yield strength, compressive strain at break, and the material's response throughout the stress-strain curve. Compression characterization tests provide a complete picture of the material's properties.

It's important to note that a test machine configured for characterization tests is an expanded version of a strength-alone tester. Contact us for more information.

  • Yield Strength: The stress at which a material begins to deform plastically.
  • Ultimate Strength: The maximum stress a material can handle before breaking.
  • Modulus of Elasticity: Measure of a material's stiffness under compression.
  • Stress-Strain Curve: Graphic representation of material behavior under load.
Compression Testing Test Results

Common Compression Testing Industry Standard Test Methods

ASTM and ISO Industry standards provide the most comprehensive list of different compression tests and their applications. Industry standards can be educational and address many topics, including:

  • Testing equipment required including test machine, grips and fixtures, data analysis requirements, test control variables, etc
  • Definitions of terms and technical jargon used.
  • Step-by-step instructions on how to perform a test on your specific material, including:
    • Equipment setup and calibration
    • Specimen mounting
    • Test machine loading speeds or strain rates
    • Test machine data collection requirements
  • Special formulas and equations to calculate properties
  • Specifies special information that should be included in a test report

ASTM Test Methods for Compression Tests

  • ASTM E9 Compression Testing of Metals
  • ASTM D695 Compressive Properties of Rigid Plastics
  • ASTM D3410 Compressive Properties of Polymer Matrix Composites
  • ASTM D575 Compression Test of Rubber
  • ASTM D1621 Rigid Cellular Plastics Compression Testing
  • ASTM C39 Compressive Strength of Cylindrical Concrete Specimens
  • ASTM D3574 Method C Compression of Flexible Cellular Urethane Foams

ISO Test Methods for Compression Tests

  • ISO 604 Plastics Compressive Properties
  • ISO 844 Rigid Cellular Plastics Compression Properties
  • ISO 14126 Fiber Plastic Composites' Compressive Properties
  • ISO 7743 Rubber Compression Stress-Strain Properties

Search by Materials

Alternatively, you can search for candidate test methods based on specific materials. If you know the material you will be testing, then refer to this table to find and learn more about the products we recommend for testing that specific material.

What if I Don’t Have a Specific Test Standard or Don’t Know Exactly What I Need?

We can guide you through the process of configuring a machine, whether the purpose is to help you create a budget or to buy a machine.

How to Perform a Compression Test to a Specific Standard

  1. Identify the closest test method for your material. There are multiple international standards organizations and subsequent standards including ASTM, ISO and 20+ others. See below for examples.
  2. Prepare your test samples per a selected shape and size defined in your test standard, which will guide you.
  3. Set up your Universal Test Machine. The machine must have:
    1. A set of upper and lower compression round platens or rectangular plates mounted to your machine. Platens are available for any test specimen and any test machine. Some standards require different fixtures, engineered to the special requirements listed in the standard. Contact us for advice.
    2. A deflectometer precisely measures platen-to-platen displacement with the travel range matched to your test sample requirements. There are several types to consider including a 1) deflection beam extensometer approach or 2) a three-point platen to platen DCDT assembly. Contact us for advice.
    3. A load cell sized for your application. Not too small. Not too large. A conservative rule of thumb is that your sample should break at a load range 20% to 80% of the load cell rating. Outside of that range you should consider a second load cell. Our load cells are inexpensive to add to a system.
    4. Use a Newton level control system with data analysis software. The software should be easy to use, with all the calculations you need. The controller hardware should not be ten years or older.
  4. Load the test sample in the platens while carefully aligning the sample to the center axis of the loading frame to avoid misalignment forces that could skew results. Some platens include self-aligning etched circles, some not. Contact us for advice.
  5. For most compression tests, especially plastics, rubber, and composites, the test speed setting should be set to control the test at a constant test speed. Metals test settings vary depending on the standard. We recommend our Newton controller.
  6. The machine's load cell measures applied force while the controller captures the force readings in real-time at virtually whatever speed you need. Fast or slow.
  7. If you don't have a deflectometer, you may use the test machine's crosshead encoder measurement for displacement measurements. Caution - don't use encoder based measurements to calculate modulus or yield strength. Contact us for advice. We also offer non-contacting extensometers. Some models include digital image correlation capabilities.
  8. During the test, your Newton test machine controller records force-deflection data continuously. If you are using a strain sensor (deflectometer across the platens) then you can create a full stress strain curve and report with all key parameters.
  9. Your test sample breaks after reaching its ultimate compressive strength. With the Newton controller, key property values are reported such as yield strength, ultimate compressive strength, modulus of elasticity, and elongation at break are derived from the stress-strain curve.
  10. Some customers need to test samples at elevated temperatures, in a saline bath, or at cryogenic conditions. We also provide environmental subsystemsincluding fixturing and extensometry.

What Equipment Do I Need to Perform a Compression Test?

There are two common types of compression test systems:

Universal Test Machines - Configured for Compression Testing

This type of test machine is the most flexible and versatile option. They are the best choice if you are looking for a test machine that can perform more than just compression tests. Due to the modular design, your test machine can easily perform other applications such as tensile, cyclic, shear, flexure, bend, peel, and tear by simply adding appropriate fixtures.

Compression-Only Machines

This type of test machine is configured to eliminate unnecessary features and is the most affordable and easy-to-use option.

A complete compression system includes a load frame, Newton controller with software, compression fixture or platen, and load and position sensors.

By carefully evaluating your requirements, you can select a compression system that aligns perfectly with your objectives. We recommend that you consult our experienced engineers who can guide you through the process of selecting the ideal system for your unique needs.

Get a Complete Test System for Your Test Application

Completing your material test system is easy. Simply start by choosing a test machine, choose your accessories, and select your controller software. We are your one-stop shop for all your application testing needs.

Let us help you choose the right machine for your specific application.

Compression Test Machines

Compression test machines are usually universal testing machines that are specially configured to evaluate static compressive strength characteristics of materials, products, and components. Our wide variety of compression test machines are designed to measure characteristics such as ultimate compression strength, yield strength, deflection, and modulus.

Compression Test Machines

Choose from over 40 models with force capacities ranging from very low forces up to 3 MN (660 kip) and two different technologies, offering hundreds of configuration options. This allows you to optimize your testing capabilities and select exactly what you need.

Newton Test Controller

From simplified test setups to an intuitive controller software interface and pre-configured methods for industry standards - this innovative technology ensures that your test application are conducted seamlessly and with precision.

Accurate & Repeatable Test Results

  • Simple test setup, operation, and reporting
  • Flexible and scalable software packages - Get what you need now with room to grow!
  • Prebuilt test methods for many of the most common application-specific testing standards
Software Reports
Newton Software

High-performance and easy-to-use controller with logical workflow design

With an intuitive interface, Newton makes it easy for users to navigate through various options and settings, ultimately enhancing the overall user experience. By streamlining complex procedures into user-friendly steps, this software serves both experienced test engineers and beginners alike to conduct tests with confidence and accuracy.

Due to the massive selection of products that we offer, it can be difficult to narrow down what you need. Let us help you select and configure based on your testing application.

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Compression Test Accessories

We offer 100's of standard products as well as custom solutions. Standard compression platens and plates satisfy 75% of tests, however, our modular platform enables us to adjust designs for any application requirement. We understand that every application can be unique. With this in mind, we offer custom-engineered fixtures to match your specimen with any test force requirement.

General Purpose

Specialized Compression Fixtures by Industry Standard

In addition to our general-purpose accessories, we have fixtures specifically designed for compression testing to specific standards.

Use the tables below to search for the fixture that matches your sample the best. Can't find what you are looking for? Contact us. We are confident we have what you need.

Talk to one of our Engineers to help you navigate the vast selection of testing accessories to find the perfect fit for your testing application.

Talk to an Engineer

Top 3 Considerations When Compression Testing

  1. Specimen Selection and Preparation Thin and slender specimens are prone to buckling instead of a true compressive failure. Also, surface flaws on the specimen's top and bottom surfaces act as stress concentrators, leading to possible premature failure. Also, the specimens contact with the compression platens must be parallel. Any misalignment creates bending stresses on top of the compression load stress.

    Contact us to find out how we can help

  2. Test Platens and Equipment Friction between the test sample and the platens impede the free expansion of the material under load. This introduces a complex and non-uniform stress state that artificially increases the measured strength. If the platens are not more rigid than the material being tested, they can deform as well, influencing the results. Standard platens are either aluminum or hardened steel. Even slight misalignment of the platens can skew results.

    Contact us to find out how we can help

  3. Stress and Strain Measurement Particularly for low-strength or brittle materials, the selection of the load cell needs to account for accuracy within the expected force range, which is essential. Direct measurement of compressive strain can be difficult, especially for brittle materials. We offer multiple solutions but they each have limitations. Note that using the displacement of the test machine's encoder introduces errors due to machine compliance.

    Contact us to find out how we can help

Compression Testing Applications

A compression test is used to check the quality of different materials based on their properties such as hardness, yield strength, and compression strength. When selecting materials for a final product or prototype, you need to know if they will stand up to real-world use. Every material has a breaking point, so knowing how strong your materials are can alert you if you are using something that won't hold up well under stress.

These are just a few examples of compression testing applications:

  • Construction and Civil Engineering including concrete strength of structures, bridges, and infrastructure, as well as strength of masonry such as bricks, blocks, and mortar, are common. Testing the compressive strength of lumber along and across the grain is needed for building construction.
  • Manufacturing and Product Design Compression tests ensure good packaging performance such as the ability to withstand stacking and transport loads without failure. In the automotive industry, compression tests are needed on shock absorbers, gaskets, bushings, and seals. In Aerospace, structural components and materials experience complex loads, including compression in critical parts. Highly specialized compression tests are required. Biomedical applications include characterizing hydrogels in saline baths.
  • Materials Research and Other Compression tests help characterize new materials and advanced composites. Evaluating the compressibility and firmness of produce helps with packaging tests and transport conditions. Testing springs in various products, soft foams in furniture, and the strength of components that might be compressed are all candidates for compression testing.