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The University of Southampton
nC2 An Enterprise Consultancy Unit

Products and Services

Testing work can be carried out for a client who wishes to understand which material to select for their product. It might be the whole task or part of a larger package of work.

• Erosion testing: simulating the harsh environments found in many industries such as oil & gas, off-shore wind turbines and turbo-machinery. This can be the testing of bulk materials or coatings under (1) wet slurry sand or plain/sea water erosion conditions, (2) dry air sand erosion up to very high impingement velocities, (3) cavitation erosion testing using a ultrasonic horn method. More information here.


• Sliding wear testing: Sliding wear is a form of wear involving two surfaces in relative motion, which often results in the removal of material in form of debris and ploughing of one or both surfaces. Two of the most commonly used test rigs for sliding wear measurement are the TE77 and pin-on-disc tribometers. More information here.


• Abrasive wear testing: simulating most contact situations with or without lubrication, as two-body or three-body wear conditions. This work is conducted using the micro-abrasion ball cratering test rig. More information here.


• Corrosion testing: exposing metals to different environments. Approaches include the use of two laboratory salt spay cabinet or immersion testing and the facilities at Southampton docks for long term sea-water exposure testing. We can also carry out cathodic protection surveys.


• Mechanical testing: this is a complementary testing service offered in-conjunction with the Rifi consulting specialists. Sample testing arrangements include Tensile, Torsion, Compression, Fatigue, Hardness, Impact and Highstrain.


• Nano-mechanical testing: nano-indentation, impact, fatigue, scratch, wear and fretting. With environments including temperatures from -20oC to 750oC, liquid immersion, reduced oxygen/purged conditions and under controlled humidity levels.


Characterisation work can be carried out for a client who wishes to understand the current condition of his/her product(s)/sample(s). It involves measuring and recording either destructively or non- destructively. It might be the whole task or part of a larger package of work.

• Microscopy services, sample preparation (for example polished or etched embedded sections) with digital image recording and interpretation of results for the client into the context of their business, techniques include: macroscopy, light microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

• Profilometry services with a full set of interpreted results for the client providing information regarding the surface roughness, a wear scar or just surface condition, with recording of digital images if appropriate. Techniques available include (1) 2D contact surface profilometry using a Form Talysurf-120Lwith internal and external measuring styli. (2) a smaller portable system than can be taken out of the laboratory (it has successfully measured train lines for example). (3) 3D non-contact approaches using Alicona InfiniteFocus 3D.

• C-Scan and CT scanning are facilities that nC2 has access to, allowing the capture of the internal condition of products and samples (composite, metal, plastics etc). The output of these facilitates can then be interpreted by the nC2 experts and explained to the client with context to their concerns. Click here for more information on a recent CT scanning project with nC2. 



Forensic engineering materials investigations can be carried out for a client to determine the cause
 of an unexplained failure. It often involves a special investigative skill set that can only come
through experience and knowledge not found in general industry and combines many resources and facilities which would be prohibitively expensive if they were not being employed full time on other tasks (at the UoS this equipment is used in research). The work can include: photographic record of state; forensic materials engineering; macro and micro examinations; fractography; tribology 
testing of samples; characterisation and measurement; CT for internal failures; professional opinions and expert witness. 

This type of work does not involve a laboratory; it is where a client has asked for a design to be evaluated as a paper exercise. Using the experience and opinions of the nCstaff and other consulting academics along with access to the breath and depth of information obtainable through the Hartley library a report can be produced. A recent example of this work was conducted for the English Institute of Sport (EIS) who required a report covering the friction of steel on ice at various speeds and design suggestions for future tribo-machinery.

nC2 is ideally positioned to help industry with their applied research, we accept direct industry funding or will assist companies in their applications for government or public money such as Innovate, EPSRC, IAA, KTPs etc. nC2 backed by the faculty have many industrial contacts and are happy to broker collaborative research networking opportunities between its clients.

The research can be conducted over short time frames (months not years) and can be completely confidential with no publication, or publications written if desired. The cost of the research to industry will depend on the requested level of expertise required. We can offer from final year undergraduates who will perform the research as a third year project, similarly masters group design projects. Longer in depth projects could take the form of a PhD (3 years) supervised by a senior academic. Short turn-around high level research work would be conducted by enterprise and research fellows who already have doctorates and many years experience in their field.

An example of an ongoing applied industrial research partnership is one we have with Perpetuum ltd as detailed here.


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