Services Materials


Industrial processes can expose materials of construction to harsh environments. Choosing the right material at the design / repair stage, or understanding why an existing material is deteriorating, is essential to running reliable and safe assets.

Our Materials Engineers offer pragmatic solutions with clear and concise reporting. We understand industry and how important it is to give clear advice, especially during shutdowns where time and resources are critical.

AXIOM’s metallurgical laboratory provides a significant competitive advantage over many other organisations and has proved time and time again to be a valuable asset to our own engineering departments and, to the numerous clients with whom we work on a daily basis.

Following almost 20 years of consistent financial investment and reinvestment, the laboratory and associated workshops are now home to an array of modern metallographic equipment which enables AXIOM’s Materials Engineers to handle and process materials that, at one end of the scale might be sub-microscopic dust, up to items that weigh tens of kilograms.

At the ‘dirty end’ of the process, equipment includes an industrial scale band saw and also a 350 mm diameter semi-automated water-cooled rotary cut-off saw that can “slice and dice” anything from igneous rocks to zirconium. In the metallurgical laboratory, a scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is available to facilitate the imaging of materials at extremely high magnification. The SEM is also furnished with an analyser that can simultaneously determine the elemental composition of any item under scrutiny.

In the sample preparation suite, AXIOM hold high specification optical microscopy and photo-microscopy equipment together with semi-automated grinding
and polishing units and with extracted fume cupboard facilities for subsequent chemical etching or gold plating of prepared specimens.

Some of the other metallographic tests carried out in support of failure investigations are listed below:

  • Element mapping and elemental compositional analysis
  • Surface replication and replication assessment
  • Austenite spacing and grain size determination of duplex stainless steels
  • Phase volume fraction determination by systematic (e.g. ASTM E562)
  • Inclusion content determination (e.g. ASTM E45)
  • Macro and micro hardness testing
  • Microstructural assessment

A systematic failure investigation is often a key factor in the overall assessment of root cause analysis on any material or plant equipment. Our extensive knowledge and experience of deterioration mechanisms includes both metallic and non-metallic materials in addition to surface engineered items and other coatings.

  • AXIOM’s Materials Engineers have at their disposal an extensive range of techniques to deliver an effective failure analysis for a range of sectors including oil and gas, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, bulk storage and power.
  • Using the equipment described above, we conduct most of our work within our own specialist laboratory and, when required, will visit your premises to collect data, evidence and samples for our detailed assessment.
  • We also work closely with other local test houses who, if required, we can call upon for specialised mechanical testing and other form of chemical and X-Ray analysis.

Our Materials and Welding Engineers are fully conversant with the many and various welding processes and UK and international standards. This, combined with our metallurgical expertise, makes AXIOM is well placed to support clients with any fabrication or repair project.

Our Welding Engineer holds international welding qualifications and will ensure that welding is undertaken to the appropriate fabrication Standard and codal requirements. AXIOM is also an industrial member of The Welding Institute.

We are able to assist you with:

  • Material and welding process selection
  • Welding documentation review including Weld Procedure Specification, Weld Procedure Qualification Record and welder qualifications
  • Auditing of Inspection and Test Plans and welding quality packs
  • Compliance with international welding and fabrication Standards and in particular ASME B31.12 with respect to hydrogen duty pipework

A PMI gun is a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands! We take a different, and we believe, a more holistic approach to PMI compared to most other companies.

We understand that the elemental composition is only a small part of the solution and that, to effectively reverse engineer an item to ensure operational safety and reliability, it is necessary to delve much deeper, and that is exactly what we do.

  • Using our in-house testing facilities, we would also determine the heat treatment condition and its hardness (from which we would estimate the tensile strength).
  • Further, we would to ascertain if the item has been surface-engineered (a very important aspect that is often overlooked) and whether it is weldable. As a final step, we would consider its operating and design conditions, for example, if consideration needs to be given to low temperature impact toughness.
  • Most PMI guns do not accurately measure the carbon content of metals. Where this is important, we can estimate the carbon content via spark testing or sectional metallography, or if critical, submit specimens to one of our partners for accurate chemical analysis. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile to deliver the very best service. With a comprehensive range of techniques, delivered by technical experts, our services provide our clients with complete confidence that the materials chosen are fit for purpose.

With a vast amount of experience, our Materials Engineers are available to provide you with advice across a range of materials including both metallic, and non-metallic, including surface coatings. We also advise on asset deterioration modes including hydrogen related issues, surface engineering, welding, corrosion and interpretation of UK and international industry standards.

  • Working with our in-house Inspection and Mechanical services teams, we can deliver Risk Based Inspection studies on behalf of our clients to help them to save both time and money through maximising asset availability and focussing attention on the most vulnerable equipment.
  • Our consultancy services are supported by the laboratory facilities described above.
  • When we require more specialised analysis, we also work closely with other UKAS-accredited laboratories who can provide, for example, X-Ray Fluorescence, X-Ray Diffraction and chemical analysis.

Despite modern technological advancements in metallurgy and material science, corrosion remains the single biggest cause of equipment failure, and to the detriment, costs the industry trillions of dollars globally each year.

  • The AXIOM metallurgical laboratory has the capability to undertake bench-top corrosion testing, for example in support of a failure investigation, but we consider our main asset to be our accumulated experience and ‘corporate’ knowledge.
  • We also have access to a comprehensive corrosion library.

A metallurgical replica is an acetate film that has been applied to the surface of a polished and etched steel pipe or vessel. The acetate film ‘replicates’ the microstructure of the item under scrutiny and when executed correctly, the replica is indistinguishable from an equivalent solid sample.

  • Replication is usually undertaken in connection with creep life determination, and AXIOM Materials Engineers assess a vast number of replicas each year. AXIOM also has the capability of taking metallurgical replicas (on
    site) but for ‘industrial scale quantities’, this work maybe sub-contracted to other partners of Axiom.
  • Remnant life assessment is completed in collaboration with our Mechanical Engineering Department.

Supporting the Asset Life Cycle