UTM Project: Open source tensile tester

The “UTM”, or Universal Test Machine, is a project to build an open-source mechanical “tensile tester” (or more specifically, an instrument that can perform a range of mechanical tests, including tensile) between the charity Materiom and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at The University Of Sheffield.


The instrument development was funded through the Google.org “Impact challenge on climate 2020”.


Mechanical and electronics design and construction of the v1 prototype was conducted by Richard, software was written by Dr Ben Thomas and the project overseen by Dr Chris Holland. Richard (left) and Ben (right) are shown stood alongside the v1 prototype in the photo above.


This instrument is designed with a maximum load capacity of ~20kN, and can be made predominantly using basic workshop drill presses and laser cut parts, with only one part needing machining by e.g. a suitable external workshop. The design avoids the need to navigate bearings, hydraulics and rotating components in a novel exploration of how far utilising inexpensive off the shelf linear actuators can be taken. The instrument electronics uses commonly available components, centred around a Raspberry Pi and Arduino for control and data processing. 


A v2 of the instrument has been recently started as part of a GEE (General Engineering Education) undergraduate course, comprising a team of 6 multidisciplinary students, which Richard, Ben and Chris are currently coordinating.


The v1 instrument has been documented on GitHub: click the button below to access the repository. This contains descriptions, a build guide and downloadable CAD files. Note that elements of this are being corrected/amended in parallel to the v2 instrument project.