Creation of a New Generation of Testing Instruments

Not too long ago, Joe Amaral presented at the ASTM week on the creation of testing systems and how Instron came to be. Taking his generous synopsis, I've broken it down into 2 parts. We'd enjoy hearing from you and your first experience testing on a system.

1946 (Part 1)

The developments of test methods or instruments usually follow a need created by a new material, application, or problem with an existing material. To meet such a need, during the early 1940s a closed-loop tensile testing instrument with a wide load range was developed at MIT.

The DuPont chemical company created a research laboratory in the late 1920s to develop “artificial” materials. This effort was headed by Dr. Wallace Carothers, a chemist, who left his position at Harvard to join in the DuPont initiative. One of the first commercial products was the production of nylon in 1935. Coincidently, the US relationship with Japan, its greatest supplier of silk, had diminished in the years before WWII creating the need for a replacement fiber for this versatile natural material. Nylon was targeted to fulfill this need. Hence, material characterization had to be done to ensure it could meet some of the demanding applications for which it was intended. The most notable was the fabrication of parachutes, both the fabric and the shrouds.

The test requirements were broad. Not only was it necessary to characterize the fiber strength, but also the fiber woven structures. This new material was a thermoplastic and had properties more affected by the rate of loading during the test than most conventional materials.

During WWII, MIT was funded to do many research projects in support of the US military. The effort to do a proper evaluation of these new polymer materials was one of those projects. The goal was to build a testing instrument that had a very broad load range, a precise control of the rate of testing as the specimen was loaded and a direct measurement of sample elongation. With the anticipation of a wide commercial demand, it had to be portable enough to manufacture and deliver to laboratories around the US.

Stayed tune to learn more about how these goals were accomplished .....

Originally posted on January 19, 2012 , Updated On March 23, 2021