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.

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.

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

Additive manufacturing

The Materials engineering group makes regular use of facilities of the Stellenbosch Technology Centre - Laboratory for Advanced Manufacturing (STC-LAM). These serves include, additive- and subtractive manufacturing. The STC importantly owns a laser powder bed fusion machine: Concept Laser M2. This machine is capable of additively fabricating materials from Ti6Al4V, Stainless 316 and Maraging Steel.


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.

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.

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 computer tomography

Industrial X-ray micro computed tomography is available through collaboration with the Stellenbosch University CT Scanner Facility of the Central Analytical Facility. 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 500 N and from -10 to +50 degrees C.