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The testing and structures research laboratory

The Testing and Structures Research Laboratory (TSRL) is a multidisciplinary facility that covers a wide range of application areas. The purpose of the facility is to provide the University of Southampton with a state of the art materials and structures testing facility that enable developments in measurement methodologies with a focus on utilising imaging systems to provide information on structural performance. The TSRL provides a major regional and national centre for mechanics research with the primary objective of fostering scholarship and scientific enquiry into the behaviour of materials and structures.

Research carried out in TSRL addresses microstructure-property relationships, material-structure synthesis, design-production coupling and fluid-structure interactions.

Alongside TSRL are the μ-VIS: Multidisciplinary, Multiscale, Microtomographic Volume Imaging and the Heavy Structures facility which provide opportunities for studies across the length scales from micro to component to full structure.

The TSRL contains an extensive range of static, cyclic and high strain rate machines capable of testing a wide range of materials across the loading scales, length scales, temperature scales and strain rates. We also utilise a large number of non-contacting, non-destructive investigation techniques for identifying and quantifying damage and defects within structures and components.

Typical applications include:

  • Evaluation of mechanical properties
  • Measurement of deformation or strain maps on the surface of a specimen or structure
  • Strain measurement of composite, metal and foams specimens subjected to high rate loading
  • Identification of damage initiation in structures
  • Evaluation of stresses in actual components
  • Identification and monitoring of fatigue crack propagation
  • Monitoring of damage evolution and damage accumulation within components
  • Experimental finite element model validation
  • Non-destructive evaluation of composite or metallic samples, or of bonded joints for the identification of defects
  • Strain maps of through thickness strains on bonded joints
  • Deformation of face sheets of sandwich structure during failure

Test machines

Three electro-mechanical test machines for quasi-static loading with capacity from 0.1N up to 50 kN. Nine servo- hydraulic test machines for static and dynamic loading with capacity up to 630 kN. An electro-dynamic test machine with capacity up to 1 kN with frequencies up to 100 Hz. Wide range of load cells, fixtures, grips and loading jigs for bending, shear, fracture, tensile and compression tests. Experience in designing multi-axial loading scenarios. All machines have the capacity to record data directly from the machine/extensometers as well as outputs for synchronisation with imaging equipment and other sensors.

High speed test facilities

High speed test machine (VHS) with 60 kN capacity and strain rates up to ~ 100 s-1.

CEAST 9350 Drop tower capable of applying impact energies up to 1800J

Inertial Impact Rig (Gas gun) capable of achieving impact speeds of up to 100ms-1

Split-Hopkinson Bar rig for small coupon specimens and strain rates from 10-2 s-1 up to 10-3 s-1.

Facilities for Strain Measurement and Crack Growth Monitoring and Detection

  • Large range of extensometers for static and dynamic strain measurement
  • Expertise and facilities for strain gauge application and recording. Equipment includes Vishay StrainSmart 7000 and 8000 systems for simultaneous recording at rates from 10 Hz to 10 kHz
  • Video-Extensometry for real-time strain and displacement information of multiple points at a recording rate of 15 Hz.

MATALECT DCM-2 for crack growth monitoring and detection:

The DCM-2 from Matelect is a modern microprocessor based instrument for measuring crack depth in metals undergoing fatigue testing which can be connected and synchronised with our test machines.  It utilizes the pulsed direct current potential drop method (DCPD) which is an established technique covered by the ASTM 647 which involves passing a current through a sample and measuring the voltage. The presence of a growing defect will alter this voltage and by suitable calibration, a measure of the defect depth can be obtained. The unit has two channels for voltage measurements, a 10A maximum current output (variable in steps of 10mA) and comes with advanced sampling and filtering options.

Environmental Chambers

Three thermal chambers, with viewing windows for optical access that can be fitted to all test machines. Tests can be conducted at temperatures between -269 ºC and 550 ºC. A further environmental chamber is also available for very high temperature testing (>750 ºC) that can be operated under vacuum or using a range of piped gases.

Imaging for materials characterisation and assessment of structural performance

Infra -red imaging and thermography

The system is a Cedip Silver 480M (now the FLIR SC5000), which consists of an Indium Antimonide (InSb) detector of 320 x 256 elements. The detector operates within the 3-5 μm infra-red wavelength band and the standard operational temperature range is from 278 to 583 K.

The maximum frame rate of the detector at full frame is 383 Hz which can be windowed down to achieve up to 14kHz recording rate. The detector sensitivity 4.12 mK / DL (at 298 to 299 K) with an NETD of ~17 mK.

Extensive experience and the ability for perform standard infrared thermography (IRT), thermoelastic stress analysis (TSA), and pulsed or pulse phase thermography (PT/PPT).

Applications include:

Thermal imaging of processes (IRT)

  • Identification of damage initiation in structures (IRT)
  • Evaluation of stresses in actual components (TSA)
  • Identification and monitoring of fatigue crack propagation (TSA)
  • Monitoring of damage evolution and damage accumulation within components (TSA)
  • Finite element model validation (TSA)
  • Non-destructive evaluation of composite or metallic samples, or of bonded joints for the identification of defects (PT/PPT)

White light imaging for evaluation of displacement and strains

The white light imaging facilities include a large range of high resolution cameras and lenses. The LaVision DaVis software is typically used to process the image data into displacements and strains. There are also facilities for using other white light techniques, such as the grid method. There is a capability to perform 2 x 3D DIC by synchronising 4 cameras. We have also developed a system to synchronise white light cameras with infra-red systems to obtain simultaneous measures of strain and temperature evolutions.

Cameras:

LaVision 16Mpx camera, 4 x Manta G504B cameras, 2 x LaVision E-lite cameras, SONY XCD-SX910

High speed cameras:

Shimadzu HPV-X2 (up to 10M fps) Photron SA3 (up to 60,000 fps) Motion Pro X3 plus (up to 50,000 fps).

Example applications:

  • Measurement of deformation or strain maps on the surface of a specimen or structure
  • Strain maps of through thickness strains on bonded joints
  • Deformation of face sheets of sandwich structure during failure
  • Strain measurement of composite, metal and foams specimens subjected to high rate loading

Ultrasound System (C-Scan)

This ultrasonic technique can be used as a non-destructive means for detecting damage and defects within a material. The suite includes a range of transducers for use with different materials, thicknesses and probing depths.

Equipment/Software:

Ultrasonic Sciences Ltd (USL) custom built system including:

  • USL C scan and data acquisition software
  • 500MHz analogue - digital converter
  • Range of Transducers including: 2.25, 5, 10, 15, 30 and 50 MHz some focussed and unfocussed.

Composite Manufacturing Facilities

Facilities for lay-up using prepreg, wet lay-up and resin infusions. Flexible heated curing space for large scale manufacturing.

  • Computer controlled autoclave, up to 5 bar (with additional 1 bar from vacuum pump) and temperature cure up to 180 ºC
  • Computer controlled oven, up to 1 bar with vacuum pump and temperature cure up to 250 ºC

For general and technical queries please contact:

Dr Andy Robinson
Experimental Officer and Specialist in Materials and Structures

A.Robinson@soton.ac.uk
+442380 592939

For academic queries please contact:

Professor Janice Barton
Academic Responsible for TSRL

janice@soton.ac.uk
+442380 596522 

For consultancy queries please contact RIFI:

Dr Simon Quinn
Director of Enterprise, Research Institute for Industry

rifi@soton.ac.uk

Testing and Structures Research Laboratory
Engineering and the Environment
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
Southampton
SO17 1BJ

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