Researchers in the college will soon have access to a Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer testing platform. With it, they can perform mechanical load and displacement tests of materials, devices and components that were not possible previously.
Professor Mark Rentschler in the Paul M. Rady Department of Mechanical Engineering said the platform will help to characterize larger, possibly heterogeneous materials, including both those that are passive (structural, elastic and damping) and active (sensors, actuators). He said the machine would arrive in November and details on access and scheduling would be shared soon.
“With the platform we will be able to conduct monotonic static and dynamic tests, constant amplitude fatigue and cyclic tests, dynamic characterization tests, and random fatigue tests,” he said. “It is exciting because the combination of high speed and high stroke the platform offers is not available elsewhere on campus currently.”
The equipment was purchased through shared funding from the Multi-Functional Materials and Autonomous Systems Interdisciplinary Research Themes. Additional funding came from the Research Support Office, the mechanical department, Design Center Colorado and many faculty labs. Assistant Professor Kaushik Jayaram is part of both IRTs and provided funding for the equipment through his lab. He said it will help in the search for lighter, stronger and cheaper materials with long-life cycles that can be used in his nature inspired robotics projects.
“We are making our robots miniature, yet more capable and creating novel composite materials exhibiting animal muscle-like properties. These smart materials can sense and actuate to dynamically change mechanical properties at-will,” he said. “This new equipment will provide us the ability to characterize them – and the biomaterials providing inspiration for their design – with fine temporal resolution."
Multi-Functional Materials Director Nikolaus Correll said the system should help generate preliminary results for grant proposals coming out of faculty labs in both themes.
“The DMA will allow us to study interesting material systems that include sensors and actuators without destroying them. Those characterizations will enable modeling capabilities to improve and expand autonomous systems and multi-functional materials research in the college,” he said. “The platform offers a unique experimental capability that I am certain will facilitate new collaboration between faculty across the college.”
Interested researchers should contact Rentschler for more information about capabilities and usage.