Mechanical Testing

The following mechanical testing facilities are available:

  • 30kN MTS universal testing machine.
  • 30 kN Instron (retro fitted) servo-hydraulic testing machine.
  • 250 kN Amsler hydraulic testing machine.
  • Impact testing.
  • EMCO Durascan 10 Vickers micro hardness tester,
  • Rockwell hardness tester.

Die compaction of powders is available using the 250 kN Amsler hydraulic press and a 12 ton (100 kN) Carver manual press. Tooling for 10 mm and 25 mm diameter slugs, as well as rectangular transverse rupture bars for three-point bend testing is available.

Heat-treatment and Sintering

The following furnaces are available:

  • horizontal tube furnace (up to 1500°C) that can be used in high vacuum (<10-5 mbar) or under flowing argon – used exclusively for titanium
  • continuous pusher furnace (up to 1200⁰C) with controlled hydrogen/nitrogen atmosphere
  • a number of muffle furnaces capable of performing atmospheric heat treatments up to 1000°C


Light microscopes are geared for light microscopy with digital cameras attached for the acquisition of high quality images:

  • Inverted metallurgical light microscope (Olympus GX51)
  • Stereo microscope (Olympus SZX7)
  • Stream Essentials 1.8 image analysis software

Scanning electron microscopy with electron dispersive spectroscopy is available through collaboration with the Central Analytical Facility (www.sun.ac.za/caf )

Specimen Preparation

Preparation of specimens for microstructural analysis:

  • Low speed precision cut-off saw.
  • Hot and cold mounting of samples.
  • Automatic grinder/polisher.
  • Ultrasonic bath.
  • Acid etching.

Digital Image and Volume Correlation

Our Digital Image Correlation system (from LaVision) comprises of a stereo vision camera setup to allow for in-plane and out-of plane measurements. Our system offers a range of digital cameras and lenses to allow a large field of view.

Digital Volume correlations can be performed with the use of volume data using industrial X-ray micro computed tomography facility though the Central Analytical Facilities (www.sun.ac.za/caf).

Powder Analysis

Powder particle size analysis is carried out by sieving analysis (Endecott calibrated sieve in a shaker) or by laser diffraction (Micromeritics Saturn DigiSizer, in collaboration with Process Engineering).

Apparent density and flow rate are measured using a Hall flow meter.

X-ray tomography

Industrial X-ray micro computed tomography is available through collaboration with the Stellenbosch University CT Scanner Facility of the Central Analytical Facility (www.sun.ac.za/ctscanner). Dr Du Plessis heads the facility and research group (http://blogs.sun.ac.za/duplessis/). This technology allows high-resolution non-destructive 3D analysis of materials, for porosity, defects, cracks and dimensional accuracy analysis. Micro and nanoCT scanners are available, as well as advanced image processing and analysis. Additionally, in-situ tensile and compression and temperature stages are available for materials testing under load, up to 500N and from -10 to +50 degrees C. Dr Du Plessis heads the facility and research group (http://blogs.sun.ac.za/duplessis/).