Stone Chip Test

Car with coating damage from road debris like gravel
Coatings Assessment: Resistance to Chipping
Applied Technical Services offers a variety of materials testing methods to determine whether client products, components, or materials display performance characteristics appropriate to their intended use. One such method used for coating testing is the stone chip test. Our environmental testing division performs this test on client coating samples to judge their durability in the face of small, flying objects like gravel.
Stone chip resistance testing holds particular interest for the automotive industry because of how it applies to their products; as roadways often have debris like loose gravel that kicks up as tires pass over them, cars need coatings that do not chip from these tiny projectiles. ATS can analyze the various layers of automotive paint on a sample to ascertain whether they resist damage incurred from foreseeable road conditions. The method is also referred to as gravelometer testing after the equipment used to perform the method.
The Gravelometer and Stone Chip Resistance
ATS’ environmental testing division evaluates the stone chip resistance of client samples using a specialized equipment called the gravelometer. This machine uses pressurized air to launch gravel at a mounted test sample. After exposing the sample to the flying debris for the duration specified in the applicable testing standard, our technicians will gently remove first any condensation using a damp cloth, and then any flaking or otherwise loose paint fragments using adhesive tape. Finally, we perform a visual assessment of the resultant damage. Because of automotive paint’s thermal characteristics, this testing is performed repeatedly in varying temperatures to make sure the data we collect is more useful to the client.
A variety of standard testing specifications lay out how to perform this test method, some specific to the automotive industry and some more generalized. We conduct stone chip testing in accordance with ASTM D3170 and SAE J400 (for which our lab is ISO 17025 accredited by the A2LA) as well as DBL 7933 § 5.3.2 (for which we have both ISO 17025 accreditation and Daimler Class ‘A’ approval to perform). We can also conduct this test method according to clients’ specifications, should they request it.
Depending on the standard to which the client wants their samples tested, results may either be compared against standard results for a summary assessment or given specific ratings based on the number, size, and severity of chips sustained.
About Applied Technical Services
Since our founding in 1967, ATS has provided world-class testing, inspection, and engineering consulting services. The five intervening decades have seen us grow to serve clients who engage in a variety of industries and who operate in countries across the globe. Although companies from other industries can benefit from ATS’ more generalized coating validation services, our stone chip / gravelometer testing capabilities are primarily geared toward the automotive industry.
Our Dedication to Quality

ATS performs all of our coating testing services in accordance with our quality assurance procedures. Our quality management system is ISO 9001 registered, meaning that third-party inspectors audited our processes and affirm that our quality management practices are consistent with the internationally recognized standard that outlines effective principles of quality assurance. By upholding these precepts across each of our processes, ATS equips our personnel to continually improve the quality of the services that we provide our clients.

We take certain measures to help create a positive customer experience, such as:
  • Returning clear, detailed, and accurate reporting within a short turnaround window
  • Empowering customer service associates to receive questions about the completion status or details of test results, and facilitate client contact with the most appropriate testing expert
  • Ensuring technicians and personnel are accessible to clients, responsive to their needs, and engaged in solving problems
If your company needs stone chip testing from an accredited automotive testing lab, contact ATS today — we take a closer look.

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