Structures and materials research includes work in composite materials, computational structural mechanics, damage tolerance analysis, experimental structural analysis, structural mechanics and aeroelasticity, tribology, manufacturing, wave propagation, smart materials and structures, and optimal design methods.
The McDonnell Douglas Composite Materials Laboratory contains equipment and facilities for general material testing and for fabrication of composite laminates. An autoclave specially designed for curing epoxy-matrix composites is available for laminate fabrication. A hot press is used for forming thermoplastic composites, and an EnTec filament winding machine is available for making cylindrical composite structures. A water jet cutting machine is used for specimen preparation. Four complete MTS material and fatigue testing machines (55 kip, 22 kip, 11 kip, and 1 kip capacity) and associated equipment are used to perform ultimate strength, stiffness, and fatigue tests on various composite materials. Nondestructive inspection equipment includes an x-ray machine and an ultrasonic C-scan system. Additional facilities for preparing laminated composites, impact testing, and creep testing are available.
The Fatigue and Fracture Laboratory is well-equipped conduct structural integrity motivated research directed at evaluating the damage tolerant properties of materials and components. Two computer-controlled electro-hydraulic test machines (11,000 and 22,000 lb. capacity) and associated equipment are used to measure fracture loads and to study fatigue crack formation and propagation in test specimens subjected to simulated aircraft or spacecraft load histories. Facilities are also available to artificially corrode specimens in connection with corrosion and/or corrosion/fatigue related research, and to perform nondestructive inspections by magnetic particle and dye penetrant methods.
The Structural Dynamics Laboratory has the latest equipment for recording ultra-dynamic events. Major equipment includes Norland and Nicolet digital recorders, a one-million-frame-per-second dynamic camera, impact gun, and various computer peripherals for data acquisition. The primary research interest is in the impact of structures and the analysis of consequent stress waves.
The Tribology and Materials Processing Laboratory, maintained jointly with the Center for Materials Processing and Tribology contains tribological instrumentation as well as up-to-date machines for manufacturing processes. Equipment includes a 22 kip computer-controlled electro-hydraulic test machine and associated equipment for fretting fatigue testing at room and elevated temperatures, infrared sensors for full-field temperature measurements, a friction apparatus for both low and high speed sliding indentation, lapping and polishing equipment, a vibration isolation table, micropositioning stages, a sliding wear experiment, Talysurf profilometers, phase shift interferometric profilometer, an atomic force microscope, a nanoindenter, a talysurf instrument for measurements of form, cylindricity cuts and taper, an SEM and optical microscopes. A piezo-electric based load frame has been constructed to perform high frequency fretting fatigue experiments related to HCF of aircraft engines. Also, access is available to a variety of machine tools a precision high speed surface grinder, a centerless grinder, and a super finishing machine, as well as associated piezoelectric force transducers.