1. What is a Material Test Report (MTR)?

A Material Test Report (MTR), also known as a mill test report, acts as a certified record of a material’s physical and chemical properties. These qualities are necessary for assuring proper compliance, reporting, and application purposes. Standards, such as ANSI and ASME, that require MTR certs ensure that manufacturers are working with materials suited for their intended purpose. Failure to accurately communicate a material’s physical and chemical properties can lead to issues that may result in catastrophic failure or even loss of life. This is why MTRs are of critical importance during and after manufacturing processes.

Other common names for Material test reports include:

  • Certified Mill Test Report
  • Certified Material Test Report
  • Mill Certification
  • Mill Test Certificate
  • Mill Inspection Certificate
  • MTC

2. What Information Does A Material Test Report (MTR) Contain?

A material test report can contain varying information based on the material to which the report belongs. For instance, in the steel industry, an MTR may include some or all the following information:

  • Material Heat Number
  • Material Grade
  • Edition Year and Type of Specifications Met
  • Material Dimensions
  • Mechanical Properties
  • Chemical Analysis
  • Heat Treatment (if applicable)
  • Certified Inspector Signature

3. What Is A Heat Number/Heat code?

A heat number, also called heat code, is a reference for a piece of metal. It provides a traceable record of the batch that the piece came from. The number is used as a tracking method by metal providers and component manufacturers. Thus, the quality and reliability of metals used in an array of manufacturing operations and applications can be ensured.

an image of an MTR heat number on a sheet of metal

The heat number is considered the only way to track steel or alloy plate, pipes, and tubes back to their MTR/MTC. A heat number is best associated with a manufacturing lot number. A lot number is used to identify a production run or batch as a means of quality control. This process will include at least these four items:

  • Mill Heat Codes
  • Material Purchase Order
  • Component Manufacturer Heat Codes
  • A method for tracing mill heat codes to manufacturer heat codes

There is no uniform structure to how heat number and associated information are displayed on materials. However, the vast majority use the following structure to indicate material characteristics and composition:

  • The first digit corresponds to the furnace number
  • The second digit indicates the year in which the material was melted
  • The last three (and sometimes four) indicate the melt number.

4. How Are Heat Codes/Heat Numbers Used?

The most common practice used to track heat codes is to stencil, write, or imprint them on the metal’s surface. Some metal suppliers will utilize a more uncommon practice of including tracer numbers. The manufacturer is responsible for tracking activities once the metal ships to a manufacturing facility.

This code is used to track material within a production system and provides specific traceability to customers. It is a quality control mechanism that is utilized at every point in the supply chain, from foundry to finished goods.

5. What Is A Material Grade?

Material Grade is usually in the form of a letter code, series of letters, or a combination of letters and numbers. It indicates the purpose of use and mechanical properties, as well as chemical composition of a material. The material grade applies to all forms of metals and alloys.

6. What Are Mechanical Properties?

Mechanical properties are physical properties that a material exhibits upon the application of forces. Examples of mechanical properties are the absolute value of elasticity, tensile strength, elongation, hardness, and fatigue limit.

7. What Is Chemical Analysis?

Chemical analysis includes common qualitative and quantitative methods of determining material composition. This includes chromatography, gravimetric analysis, ICP analysis, OES analysis, SEM-EDS analysis and XRF analysis.

8. What Is Heat Treatment?

Heat treatment processes alter the physical and/or chemical properties of a material. This can include heating or chilling, often to extreme temperatures, to achieve the desired result. This can include hardening or softening of a material. Commonly utilized heat treatment techniques include annealing, case hardening, precipitation strengthening, tempering, carburizing, normalizing, and quenching.

9. Why Are Material Test Reports (MTRs) Important?

A Material Test Report is important for a number of reasons. The document applies to a number of individuals and companies utilizing various raw materials and finished products. For instance, a metal forge will generally need to include an MTR with any raw metal or alloy created in its facility. This document applies to sanitary products, infrastructure projects, and other applications where specific compositions and tolerances are required to ensure safety.

The MTR serves as proof and a reference that a given material meets or exceeds the standards required for an application.

The MTR will also serve as a traceable record, back to a material’s original manufacturer, to ensure quality and accountability according to ASME standards. Companies must maintain these records for three years. However, many companies stake their reputations on having comprehensive quality programs and will organize databases dedicated to compiling and maintaining meticulous MTR records.

10. How Do I Read A Material Test Report (MTR)?

Reading a Material Test Report (MTR) can be an intimidating task for those who do no interact with these documents often. Unfortunately, there is no standard for the format for an MTR. MTR documents are often translated from another language, which makes the process more convoluted.

When reading a Material Test Report (MTR), the material’s physical and chemical composition can be verified regardless of the document’s origin.

How to read an MTR/MTC – Step 1

The initial review of an MTR begins with a physical inspection of the material on the shop floor or in the warehouse. The heat number should be physically present and identifiable on the material’s surface. This number is then compared with the associated MTR to ensure the two match. Simple surface and edge measurements will further confirm this material conforms to project requirements based on physical dimensions and thickness.

How to read an MTR/MTC – Step 2

Further inspection will require the person(s) to reference the ASME/ASTM/EN standards section applicable to their project material requirements. Locate the chemical composition table and proceed to compare the percentage values in the MTR with the acceptance range in the table. The most commonly included elements are Carbon (C), Chromium (Cr), Copper(Cu), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum(Mo), Nitrogen (N), Nickel(Ni), phosphor(P), Sulphur(S) and silicon(Si).

How to read an MTR/MTC – Step 3

Following a review of the chemical analysis, locate the mechanical property table associated with the same specification. Complete the same process of comparing the measured values in the MTR with the acceptable range in the mechanical properties section. Common mechanical properties to review include tensile strength, hardness, charpy impact test results, and yield strength.

Provided that the review of these three components yield satisfactory results, the MTR can then be stored, digitized, and assigned to the material, which is then cleared to enter the next stage of the production process.

11. What Are ASME Standards?

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is one of the oldest standards-developing organizations in America. The organization has produced approximately 600 codes and standards applying to many technical areas across a broad range of industries and applications, including fasteners, plumbing fixtures, elevators, pipelines, and power plant systems and components.

The ASME’s process stems from committees of subject matter experts using an open, consensus-based process to develop the material, process, and application standards.

While ASME standards are voluntary, government agencies routinely employ ASME standards to meet regulatory objectives. This is not the case in legally binding business contracts. Organizations with jurisdictional authority can also enforce standards as part of local regulations. This can include requirements set by any federal, state, or local government agency.

ASME standards are translated into dozens of languages and are used in more than 140 countries. The organization has over 100,000 members and trains more than 5,000 individuals annually.

12. What are ASTM standards?

Formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM International has grown into a global developer of voluntary consensus standards. ASTM International has created more than 12,000 standards that are searchable by industry. The organization consists of over 30,000 volunteer members from more than 140 countries.

The organization is an open one that encourages participation from subject matter experts from around the world. ASTM standards contribute to regulation in a number of industries, including metals, construction, petroleum, and consumer products.

New and Emerging technologies and industries, including nanotechnology, additive manufacturing, and industrial biotechnology look to the ASTM for assistance in the standardization of processes and technology.

ASTM standards are essential in classifying and evaluating any material, chemical, mechanical, and metallurgical properties of metals. The standards guide product manufacturers toward proper processing and application procedures.

13. What Are EN Standards?

The European Standards, translated from French/German as European Norms and abbreviated EN, are technical standards drafted and maintained by three main regulatory bodies:

EN standards are documents that have been ratified by one of the above European Standardization Organizations (ESOs). Each of these organizations specializes in different fields and they regularly cooperate in several areas.

According to the agreed-upon tenants of the standards organizations, an EN (European Standard) “carries with it the obligation to be implemented at the national level by being given the status of a national standard and by the withdrawal of any conflicting national standard”. As a result, a European Standard (EN) becomes a national standard in each of the 34 member countries.

These standards remain voluntary and are free of a legal obligation to apply them. That is unless laws and regulations otherwise enforce standards compliance.

14. Why Are Standards Important?

Standards have a place in just about every organization and process humans participate in daily.

Standards simplify and safely facilitate various aspects of everyday life. Standardization ensures that products, services, and methods are appropriate for their intended use. It ensures that products and systems are compatible and interoperable, too.

Standards are essential in classifying and evaluating the material, chemical, mechanical, and metallurgical properties of metals. They guide product manufacturers toward correct processing and application procedures.

According to CENCENELEC, “standards provide people and organizations with a basis for mutual understanding and are used as tools to facilitate communication, measurement, commerce and manufacturing. Standards are everywhere and play an important role in the economy.”

15. Who Uses MTR Documents?

The MTR document is used by companies who manufacture, distribute and fabricate high-grade steel and alloy products. Industries that may need an MTR include:

  • Automotive
  • Construction
  • Aerospace/ Defense
  • Pipe Distributors
  • Steel Service Centers
  • Metal Distributors
  • PVF Suppliers
  • Structural Steel Fabricators
  • OCTG / Tubular Suppliers
  • Metal Service Centers
  • Valve Manufacturers
  • Steel Fabricators
  • Pipe Suppliers / Piping Yards
  • Fastener Manufacturers/Distributors
  • Machine Shops
  • ASME Vessel Fabricators/Manufacturers
  • Pipeline Contractors
  • Stainless Steel Distributors

The Who, What, And Why Of MTRs

More Information On MTR/MTC

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