Analysis and characterisation of materials

Our experts offer a complete range of engineering, development and characterisation of materials.

The skills of our teams are combined with the expertise and exceptional technical resources of research laboratories from Nantes Université (France). We use a broad range of measurement and testing equipments including almost 220 devices. This enables us to offer a wide variety of tests and analyses dealing with the different properties of materials: physical-chemical, structural, mechanical, optical, thermal, etc.

This engineering and characterisation offer applies to all types of materials: metallic, polymer and composite, organic, cement and ceramic. Thus, we provide a global, reactive and local offer in response to your technical issues and innovation projects regarding materials and their performance.


Benchmarking, advice




R&D projects

Characterisation of metallic materials

The forming processes and conditions of use of metallic materials and alloys are interdependent on their properties. Our materials engineers develop and perform the pertinent tests to determine the properties of your materials or the cause of their failure in order to optimise the choice of materials or manufacturing processes.

In a nutshell
MicroscopiesMechanical propertiesThermal propertiesImplementation processesExpertise of failure


  • Determination of microstructures and hardening processes
  • Qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis
  • Determination of inclusion and porosity rates

Mechanical properties

  • Hardness of materials or welded assemblies (filiation, mapping)
  • Static and dynamic mechanical tests


Thermal properties

  • Carrying out heat treatments under controlled atmosphere(s)
  • Measurement of the coefficient of expansion
  • DSC and TGA transition temperatures

Implementation processes

  • Audit of existing industrial processes
  • Support for the implementation of new processes
  • Development of forming process parameters (welding, additive manufacturing)
  • State of the art
  • Benchmark: identification and recommendation of processes

Expertise – Failure

  • Origin of a rupture or premature wear (brittle, ductile, fatigue) by analysis of the facies
  • Identification of micro-structures to trace mechanical, chemical or thermal treatments
  • Chemical analysis to determine the cause of corrosion (nature of the oxide, search for pollutants)
  • Analysis of defects on welds and parts made by additive manufacturing (porosity, hardness, micro-structures, chemical composition, oxidation) and recommendations on process parameters
  • Non-destructive testing (NDT)

Assemblies and surface functionalisation

From the reliability of surface preparation processes to the inspection of welded, bonded or coated assemblies, our experts will help you to control and improve your current processes. Understanding the phenomena at the interfaces is essential to address industrial issues related to  assembly of materials and perfomance of coatings.

In a nutshell
functional materialssurface treatmentsProcess qualificationCharacterisationsubstitution of Chromium(VI)Failure analysis

Functional materials and surface treatments

  • Development of customised surface functionalisation treatments on all materials:
  • Grafted functionalities on organic, inorganic or composite substrates
  • Thin film deposition by dipping/immersion, sprinkling, ink-jet

Surface texturing and functionalisation expertise

  • State of the art, patentability study
  • Search for surface texturing solutions or surface functionalisation solutions
  • Evaluation of the performance of each solution: in the laboratory or on site
  • Scaling-up for industrial application

Process qualification : cleaning / degreasing / bonding / painting

  • Audit of the current process – Benchmark of alternative solutions
  • Topographical and physico-chemical analysis
  • Characterisation of assemblies or coatings (glued studs, 90° peeling, thicknesses, corrosion)
  • Standard industrial controls
  • Study of degreasing performance, adhesion performance
  • Improvement of the current process

Polymer metallisation – substitution of Chromium(VI)

  • State of the art and benchmark – identification of suppliers
  • Search for solutions adapted to your process – technical and economic approach
  • Characterisation and evaluation of associated performance and tests
  • Support for the implementation of the solution

Failure analysis

  • Audit of compliance: compositions, thicknesses, micro-structures
  • Determining the origin of the defect
  • Formulation of hypotheses to explain the failures
  • Recommendations: materials to replace and process modifications

Characterisation of coated surfaces and assemblies

  • Determination of microstructures and curing processes
  • Qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis
  • Determination of inclusion and porosity rates
  • Hardness of materials or welded assemblies
  • Static and dynamic mechanical tests
  • Heat treatments under controlled atmosphere(s)
  • Coefficient of expansion
  • DSC, TGA transition temperatures

Study of polymers and composites

We identify the structure and properties of your polymers and thermoplastics. The aim: to optimise your manufacturing processes, improve your finished products or explain their failures. To do this, we carry out physico-chemical analyses and assess your products at the various stages of their shaping or use.

In a nutshell
Advanced characterisationThermal analysisThermal instrumentationMultiphysics modellingDurability – AgingReuse and recyclingAdditive manufacturing

Advanced characterisation

  • Structural analysis: microscopy, polymerisation rate, crystallinity
  • Chemical analysis: nature and proportion of components and surfaces
  • Thermal analysis: phase change, degradation, oxidation, expansion
  • Mechanical analysis: hardness, density, fatigue, aging
  • Defect analysis, reverse engineering, NDT

Thermal analysis

  • Volume and thermal expansion: PVT measurements, chemical shrinkage, thermomechanical properties
  • Kinetic models: identification of parameters, polymerisation, crystallisation, etc.
  • Conductivity, effusivity, diffusivity and thermal resistance
  • Rheology: viscosity of reactive systems, rheogram, measurements on complex fluids

Thermal instrumentation and multiphysics modelling

  • Instrumentation: thermal mapping, experimental benches & customised sensors
  • Simulation and modelling: product/machine temperature prediction, numerical thermokinetic models
  • Firing optimisation: optimal cycles, topological optimisation, process parameters

Durability and aging of composite materials

  • Customised testing and instrumentation: fibre optics, strain gauges, force sensors, image correlation
  • Fatigue: tensile, flexural and compression tests, fracture surface analysis, endurance limit
  • Aging: tests in extreme conditions and marine environment, thermal, UV and hygrothermal aging

Reuse and recycling

  • Ecodesign
  • Sorting and separation: solutions for the separation of multi-material assemblies
  • Physical, chemical and thermal properties of recycled fibres and materials
  • Search for recycled or recyclable materials that can be substituted for your materials
  • Study of the reuse of carbon fibres

Advanced characterisation for additive manufacturing

  • Physico-chemical characterisation
  • Thermal characterisation
  • Printing processes: experimental benches, thermal homogeneity, optimisation of adhesion
  • Simulation and modelling: FFF and AFP processes, adhesion prediction
  • Durability and aging

Characterisation of ceramic materials

With the support of IMN researchers, our materials experts identify and characterise solid and powdered ceramic materials and determine their physical, chemical and structural properties. Our engineers have the necessary experience to carry out investigations in order to understand the possible failures of ceramic materials.

In a nutshell
Chemical analysismicrostructural analysisPhysical propertiesParticle size analysisNDT

Chemical and microstructural analysis

  • Determination of porosity and specific surface
  • Particle size analysis of powders
  • Chemical composition and crystallographic analysis
  • Nanoparticles: TEM observation
  • SEM electron microscopy analysis

Physical properties

  • Mechanical tests (fatigue, creep, Charpy impact, bending, tension, compression)
  • Optical properties
  • Electrical and electromagnetic properties
  • Expansion
  • Thermal conductivity
  • Resistance of materials to cracking during thermal cycling

Expertise – Failure

  • Non-destructive testing
  • Structural analysis, characterisation of nanoparticles (pore size and geometry)
  • Chemical composition
  • Mechanical properties
  • Analysis of the phases present and pollution

Concrete formulation and analysis

Whether you are in the pre-certification phase or during the construction phase, our tests determine the mechanical and physico-chemical properties of your materials, in the laboratory or on site. Our equipment enables us to characterise a wide range of properties: strength, thermal insulation, permeability, etc.

In a nutshell
Characterisation of concreteFormulationlow-impact concretespathology expertiseDurabilityResistance to the marine environment

Characterisation of concrete

  • Reaction rates, setting of concrete and hardening of binders
  • Study of the workability of concrete
  • Shrinkage and swelling measurements
  • Density
  • Air content

Formulation of resistant concretes in the marine environment

  • Formulation of concretes suitable for immersion or interaction with the sea
  • Mechanical and physico-chemical characterisation, validation of concrete properties

Development of low-impact concretes

  • Formulation of eco-materials, fibre-reinforced concrete based on plant fibres, industrial co-products, sediments, recycled concrete, etc.
  • Physical characterisation of sands and aggregates: modulus of fineness, density and absorption coefficient
  • Leaching tests: characterising the release of polluting substances
  • Durability and aging tests
  • Benchmark, search for ways to valorise

Durability of concrete structures

  • Physico-chemical characterisation
  • Corrosion measurements
  • Porosity accessible to water, mercury, gas permeability
  • Migration, diffusion of chloride ions
  • Thermal characterisation

Mechanical testing of concrete

  • Flexural strength, compressive strength, tensile strength
  • Strength of concrete by splitting materials (presses up to 1000kN)
  • Elasticity measurements
  • Fatigue tests
  • Mechanical testing, instrumentation and monitoring, on a large scale (30m² slab)

Concrete pathology expertise

  • Internal sulphate reaction analysis
  • Alkali reaction of aggregates
  • Accelerated reaction tests, within 30 days
  • Microstructural analysis – SEM, TEM imaging
  • X-ray diffraction, spectroscopic analysis
  • Pore distribution: mercury porosimetry

Engineering at CAPACITÉS

Our materials experts perform their engineering duties in the very research laboratories of Nantes Université themselves, most notably at GeM and IMN. They strive to combine technical resources and scientific discovery to meet your R&D needs.

Our projects

Challenges we’ve met

Concrete on Cruise Ships

On each ship deck designed by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, layers of concrete are poured before the flooring is fitted. The contractors who apply these layers use different cementitious materials that have different properties – which can pose problems during application. To improve this stage of shipbuilding, the shipyard commissioned experts in geomaterials and civil engineering structures from Capacités to conduct a comparative study of sev…


Contributing to the development of…

A leading aeronautical equipment manufacturer turned to the experts at Capacités to assist in completing the final stages in the development of their novel composite material.


Modelling the heat transfer of…

A key player in the aeronautics sector called on Capacités’s specialists to determine the thermal conductivity properties of a  composite material reinforced with short fibers during the injection process.


Determining the properties of a…

As part of its R&D activities, Liebherr Aerospace sought to measure, up to 400°C, the thermal conductivity of a thermal barrier coating, deposited in a thin layer on an aluminium substrate.


Analyzing and improving surface preparation

Groupe Atlantic, a French leader in thermal comfort solutions, aims to offer its customers products with unrivaled performance and reliability.


Need an innovative and resourceful partner?

Capacités teams inspire, harness and couple numerous cutting-edge skills covering a wide range of applications and expertise to meet all of your innovation needs with passion and commitment!

+33 (0)2 72 64 88 94

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