Equipment » Electronic Fracture Metre

ENSPEC Electronic Fracture MetreENSPEC operates an IML Electronic Fracture Meter 3; traditionally these units have only been used in laboratories for testing wood strengths for scientific research.

ENSPEC uses the Electronic Fracture Meter 3 (EFM3) to measure the quality and strength of tree wood by testing core samples taken from a tree’s trunk or branch. The EFM3 electronically breaks an increment core of wood and directly records the kN strength into the computer, which then provides a digital printout of the wood’s radial, tangential and compression strength against the various stages of wood degradation; this system eliminates any chance of human error.

Where there is concern about wood strength loss in a tree or branch the EFM3 can be used to determine the structural integrity of incipient and decayed wood.

A fully trained ENSPEC operator uses the EFM3 to extract a 5 mm diameter core sample from the tree using a specially designed increment borer. This core is carefully placed in the Fracture Meter so that the wood grain is aligned in the instrument ensuring it is tested in a manner that simulates the actual loading in a tree. The instrument then automatically applies a bending load to the core and the resisting forces are measured until failure of the core occurs.

The bending strength can be measured in both the radial and tangential directions and is expressed in Newtons or MPa. Typical values range from 8 to 34 MPa (radial) and 6 to 14 MPa (tangential). The compression strength can also be measured with typical values being in the range of 15 to 45 MPa.

From this test the bending strength and compression strength of the wood is measured and the values cross referenced to tables for green wood samples. The trained ENSPEC operator interprets the results and provides the client with a professionally written detailed report. This can assist managers to make informed decisions regarding the appropriate management of the tree.


ENSPEC Electronic Fracture MetreBecause the EFM3 allows for the early detection of internal decay managers are able to plan and implement preemptive strategies to risk manage a tree. This may assist in reducing the incidence of unexpected tree failure that could cause injury or damage to people or property, and may allow the tree to be safely retained for many years.  Wood samples can be taken from a tree over a period of time to measure the progressive effects of decay and fungus on the structural integrity of the tree. These tests can assist managers in planning long-term strategies to risk manage the tree, which may allow the tree to be safely retained to fulfill its life expectancy.

ENSPEC can use the EFM3 as a research tool to measure wood quality and strength in various species of trees to screen or select for strong wood properties. The information can be then used to identify tree species that would be well suited for planting in urban environments and areas prone to high wind conditions.

The Electronic Fracture Meter 3 is an excellent example of ENSPEC’s ongoing dedication to saving trees and creating a safe environment through the use of equipment and techniques that are the most up-to-date and advanced in the world.

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