One of the main goals of maintenance is keeping assets and equipment from reaching their specific failure points. For example, and it sounds obvious, but it is important, the way to keep an engine from seizing is to make sure it never reaches the temperature at which it seizes. So, it’s critical that you know that temperature. Once you do, you can work backwards from there, setting everything up to avoid reaching it. 

Destructive testing is how you first find the failure points you need to avoid. 

What is destructive testing? 

Destructive testing is the process of finding failure points for materials, parts, or assets to establish recommendations for operation, maintenance, and replacement. 

Because once you know where something tends to fail, you can more reliably and efficiently avoid those points. 

Destructive testing is also a way to learn more about physical properties, including: 

  • Hardness 
  • Flexibility 
  • Strength 
  • Toughness 

Another common name for destructive testing is destructive physical analysis (DPA). 

What is the difference between destructive and non-destructive testing? 

The most obvious difference is there in the names, destructive and non-destructive. With destructive testing, you deform or destroy something to find its failure points. The use cases for destructive and non-destructive are also different. Destructive testing happens before an asset goes into its intended application. So, you might vibrate a car shock until it breaks before you start mass producing the part and installing it in cars. 

Non-destructive testing 

But with non-destructive, you’re inspecting a part without causing any damage at all. A quick way to understand non-destructive testing is to look at examples you’re likely already trying to use, including all your preventive maintenance inspections. When you inspect a part or asset looking for damage or early warning signs of future failure, you’re testing it without damaging it, which is the strict definition of non-destructive testing. Any inspection, from a quick visual check to a thorough examination involving high-tech equipment, can be non-destruction testing. 

What are the types of destructive testing?

There are so many industries that use destructive testing, including: 

  • Fabrication 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Energy
  • Pipeline 
  • Defense 
  • Construction 
  • Aerospace 

Likely the most famous examples of destructive testing come from the automotive industry. More on that later. 

Some of the more common types of testing include: 

  • Mechanical 
  • Tensile 
  • Torsion 

Environmental testing is also common, especially in industries where assets and equipment are exposed to the elements. For example, anything that lives on an offshore oil platform.


Here, destructive testers subject materials, parts, and assets to physical forces to find failure points. So, they bend things, drop heavy weights on them, and crush them. Often, the goal is to test the strength of the connections between two pieces. For example, glue or weld points. 

Tensile and torsion 

Testers use tensile tests to see how far they can elongate and compress parts before the parts break. Tensile strength is a measure of how much force you can apply before material begins tearing. 

With torsion testing, you’re looking at how much force you can apply before the part starts twisting. 


Testers are looking for the fatigue and fracture points for parts when they’re exposed to harsh environmental conditions, including salinity, humidity, and carbon dioxide. When testing for corrosion, testers can expose parts to different types of saltwater and freshwater. 

But the most famous types of destructive testing are from the automotive industry, including everything from tests for rollovers to side impacts. 

Which are the all-time best crash test dummy videos online? 

It’s a tough question because it’s like asking “What’s the all-time best song?” or “What’s the all-time best movie?” It’s hard to do straight comparisons because crash test videos fall into different genres. Also, a lot of it comes down to preference. So, here are examples of the best ones from some of the more popular genres of online crash test videos. 

Most expensive 

For some, the more expensive the car, the harder the video hits. There’s something special about watching a multi-million-dollar car get reduced to scrap metal. Interestingly, the video claims that one manufacturer saves money by using the same car in all its tests. To save money, they just keep repairing it each time they drive it into a wall. 

Most convincing 

Although destructive testing focuses on finding failure points, the videos also serve as powerful reminders of just how important it is to have and properly use modern safety equipment.

Most “pancake” 

There’s really nothing to say here except, yes, they turn that car into a pancake both quickly and completely.

How does an EAM solution help with destructive and non-destructive testing? 

Enterprise asset management software strengthens and streamlines maintenance, so implementing a system makes it easier to set up, schedule, and track a preventive maintenance program. 

For destructive testing, that translates directly into more uptime for your destructive testing equipment. 

For non-destructive testing, that translates into a better preventive maintenance program overall. 

At the core of an EAM solution is a central database where you can keep your data safe, secure, and accessible. Instead of having to worry about losing paperwork or struggling to find the most up-to-date version of a spreadsheet, you have everything right where you need it, updated in real time, including all your preventive maintenance work orders. And tracking your progress is also easier, because the software helps you generate reports with critical maintenance metrics and KPIs, including close out rates on PMs. 

Next steps

To find out how EAM software can support your goals, schedule a demo of ManagerPlus Lightning today.


Destructive testing finds failure points in materials, parts, and assets as part of the process of establishing recommendations for operation, maintenance, and replacement. Non-destructive testing looks for signs of impending failure. Both types of testing are common across industries and can include tests related to tensile and torsion strength and the ability to resist harsh environmental conditions. For example, tester might find the point where cable starts to corrode in saltwater. EAM software helps with both destructive and non-destructive testing. With the destructive, it makes it easier to set up, schedule, and track a PM program that helps you keep your testing equipment online. Non-destructive testing can make up a significant percentage of your preventive maintenance program in the form of visual and equipment-supported inspections, and EAM software, again, streamlines and strengthens all your related workflows and reporting. 

About the author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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