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Innovative technique uses miniaturized materials to perform mechanical tests with new capabilities

08 October 2020
A team of engineers from INEGI developed an innovative system for the experimental characterization of materials based on the reduction of the scale of test specimens.

Among the advantages of the new system, one can highlight the possibility of carrying out compression tests on thin materials, in order to determine additional properties, which would be very difficult or even impossible to obtain with the usual scales.

Characterizing the mechanical behavior of a material is an indispensable step in the development of any product. Knowing its specific behavior, such as impact resistance, traction and compression, among other properties, is essential to assess the material's response to the demands that its use imposes.

The tensile test, in particular, is a universal test that determines fundamental properties of the materials and consists of submitting a specimen to a tensile stress request, causing it to rupture and measuring the resistance characteristics of the material and its plastic deformation capacity.

Material reduction is also an advantage

However, as Daniel Cruz, an engineer at INEGI who participated in the project, explains, "when we evaluate a heterogeneous material, the macroscale tests only allow us to define average properties, not allowing us to distinguish the specific properties of each of the structures present”.

With this new equipment, however, it becomes possible, "with reduced amounts of matter, to study complementarily and also in preferential directions, the different structures of the material, when subject to different types of requests".

This optimization can be, for example, useful in the testing of materials produced through additive manufacturing or welding, processes that give anisotropic and heterogeneous structures to products, which typically makes their characterization difficult.

In addition to performing tensile tests, the equipment also tests materials in compression and when subjected to cyclical loads. The miniaturization technique is especially advantageous in compressive tests, since the specimens have a length of around two millimeters in length, thus allowing the minimization of buckling phenomena, which is undesirable for the correct mechanical characterization of the material.