Engineers are well used to assessing the properties of a material by means of standardised tests on prepared test pieces. Much valuable information is obtained from these tests including data on the tensile, compressive, shear and impact properties of the material, but such tests are of a destructive nature. In addition, the material properties, as determined in a standard test to destruction, do not necessarily give a clear guide to the performance characteristics of a complex-shaped component which forms part of some larger engineering assembly.
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