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Home > Testing services

The testing services of the Mechanics of Materials and Structures research group cover a wide range of materials:

  • fibre-reinforced composites
  • thermoset and thermoplastic polymers
  • elastomers and other hyperelastic materials
  • additively manufactured polymers and metals (3D printed materials)
  • polymeric foams
  • laminated glass and its constituents (glass/PVB/interface)
  • joints, adhesives and coatings

The available testing methods are grouped in the following categories and are explained in detail below:

Next to our research group, the Department of Materials, Textiles and Chemical Engineering contains several other research groups that are experts in the use of DSC, mDSC, DMA, DTMA,... Also the physical and chemical characterization of pure polymers and textiles is part of the expertise of the department. Therefore these services are also listed here, because of the link to the constituent materials of composites.

Cure monitoring

  • Dielectric Analysis (DEA) unit for cure monitoring with capacitance sensors
  • Interdigital miniaturized capacitance sensors for embedded monitoring of temperature and degree of cure
  • Embedded optical fibre sensors for monitoring cure-induced thermal stresses

Physical properties

  • Measurement of fibre volume fraction of fibre-reinforced composites (by matrix digestion, ignition or TGA)
  • Measurement of intra-yarn fibre volume fraction in textile composites
  • Determination of glass transition temperature and melting temperature by DSC and mDSC (ASTM D3418)
  • Assessment of curing degree and residual thermal stresses by DTMA (Dynamic Thermomechanical Analysis) for fast curing resin systems (ASTM D7028)
  • Measurement of thermal expansion coefficients
  • Measurement of directional thermal conductivity (in-plane and through-plane)

Static testing

  • Measurement of elastic properties and Poisson's ratio's of composites, polymers, foams,...
  • Measurement of static strength properties in tension, compression, shear, flexure
  • Measurement of strains in different loading conditions (by extensometer, strain gauges or full-field Digital Image Correlation (DIC))
  • Temperature-dependent characterization from -150 degrees Celsius till +250 degrees Celsius
  • Alignment fixtures for perfect alignment in tension/compression (ASTM E1012 and NadCap regulations)

Rate-dependent testing

  • Creep and relaxation tests in tension and compression
  • Cyclic hysteresis to measure plasticity or permanent deformation
  • High strain-rate tensile behaviour (strain rate up to 200/s) of polymers and composites, including measurement of load, displacement and strain
  • Measurement of strains in different loading conditions (by extensometer, strain gauges or full-field Digital Image Correlation (DIC))
  • Rate-dependent delamination growth (up to 5 m/s crack propagation speed) in composites

Environmental conditions

  • Ageing of polymers, composites and adhesives by temperature and moisture/humidity
  • Salt spray cabinet for corrosion measurements
  • Moisture uptake of polymers from dry to saturated conditions (e.g. for polyamide)

Impact testing

  • Low velocity impact (ASTM D7136, ISO 18352)
  • Compression After Impact (CAI) testing
  • In-house drop towers of 2.5 m and 6 m (up to 50 kg drop weight)
  • Synchronised measurement data of force, displacement, velocity, acceleration, strain and high-speed imaging
  • Izod impact (ASTM D256, ISO 180)
  • Charpy impact resistance (ASTM D6110, ISO 179)
  • Bird strike testing with real birds (ducks, pigeons) and substitute gelatine birds
  • Energy absorption capacity of foams and composites
  • Three high-speed camera's (up to 500 000 frames per second)
  • Oscilloscope for transient recording up to 100 MHz sample rate

Fatigue testing

  • Tension-tension fatigue (ASTM D3479) and tension-compression fatigue
  • Three- and four-point bending fatigue (ASTM D7772)
  • Rail-shear fatigue testing
  • Cantilever bending fatigue for fully-reversed loading
  • Fatigue testing of polymers, composites, 3D printed materials, joints,...
  • Tension/compression/torsion multi-axial fatigue with accurate PID control
  • High-cycle rotation bending fatigue (ISO 1143 - Rotating bar bending fatigue testing)

Fracture mechanics testing

  • Compact Tension (CT), Single Edge Notched Bending (SENB) (ASTM D5045, ISO 13586, ASTM E399, ASTM E1820)
  • Tapered DCB (TDCB) for polymers (ISO 25217)
  • Mode I delamination - Double Cantilever Beam (DCB) (ASTM D5528, ISO 15024, EN 6033)
  • Mode II delamination - End Notched Flexure (ENF) (ASTM D7905, EN 6034)
  • Mode II delamination - End Loaded Split (ELS) (ISO 15114)
  • Mixed-Mode delamination - Mixed Mode Bending (MMB) (ASTM D6671)
  • Curved beam testing (ASTM D6415) - interlaminar radial tensile stress
  • Measurement of interface/cohesive law and fracture toughness (through J-integral) using Digital Image Correlation (DIC)

Structural testing

  • Impact testing on large components
  • Bird strike testing on parts of aircraft, high-speed trains,...
  • Testing of racing bicycle frames, front forks, wheels,...
  • Impact testing of laminated glass (EN 12600, EN 356,...)
  • Long-term experience with outdoor testing (wave impact, blast testing, sailing yachts, offshore energy,...)

Nondestructive testing/inspection (NDT/NDE)

  • Ultrasound inspection of materials (detection of voids, delaminations,...)
  • Optical microscopy of polymers, composites, 3D printed materials,...
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) inspection of materials and their fracture surfaces
  • Laser scanning vibrometry for defect detection
  • Lockin thermography system for defect detection and temperature measurements
  • X-ray Micro-tomography (micro-CT) for nondestructive characterization of materials (UGent Centre for X-Ray Tomography (UGCT))

Joints, adhesives and coatings

  • Thickness measurement (micron-resolution) of coatings and substrates
  • Static, fatigue and impact behaviour of joints and adhesives (see test capabilities above)
  • Temperature-dependent behaviour of joints and adhesives
  • Single and double lap shear tests for adhesives
  • Dolly pull-off adhesion tests for adhesives and coatings (ASTM D897, ASTM D2095, ISO 4624)