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Laboratory Testing of Cement for Construction Purposes

Raw materials are the life-blood of any construction since the safety of the finished construction depends on the quality and consistency of raw materials used.

Therefore, laboratory testing is necessary to make an accurate assessment of raw materials, like cement, as any mistake in the use of poor cement can become problematic throughout the life-span of the construction. Building material testing laboratories offer testing services that can help the cement manufacturers to provide quality cement.

Cement is one of the most important and most common building materials and testing labs check to see the composition of the cement. Cement must be used only after it has undergone testing in laboratories to ensure it is compatible with other materials used in the concrete mix.

Testing laboratories also test the compressive strength of mortar over time intervals like 7 days, 28 days etc. to check the gain in strength. Cement Testing is also required to achieve ISI certification so it can be ensured that it is fit for building purposes.

Following tests are performed on cement in a building material testing laboratory to check its quality.
  • Consistency test is carried out to estimate the quantity of water required for making cement paste of normal consistency. The ratio of water to cement can be easily defined so that intended viscosity is achieved. The percentage of water used depends also on the compound composition and fineness of the cement
  • Initial and final setting time is considered to be the time taken by the cement and water mixture to stiffen and gain strength and lose consistency at the same time. When solidification begins, it is called the initial setting and that is the point in time when the cement is ready to be used. The final setting is the time taken for the cement to solidify and should not be too long as the constr0uction activity must continue within a reasonable time, after cement placement. Initial and final setting times are the fluid and solid properties of cement used in construction.
  • Soundness testing is important as unsound cement can develop cracks, distortion and even disintegration leading to failure. Laboratory testing is essential to rule out the fact that cement concrete undergoes minimal change in volume after it has set. Testing for limits of free lime and magnesia is essential as the use of these in the right quantities will not cause change in volume or unsound cement.
  • Compressive strength is the basic data required for mix design. By this test, the quality and the quantity of concrete can be controlled and the degree of adulteration can be checked.
  • The tensile strength testing is most important as it provides quick indication of defects in cement.Testing labs can find out tensile strength and at the same time also get information on compressive strength and flexural strength as tensile strength is related to these. This test is especially used for all three tests together when the sample material provided to laboratories for testing is small.
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