The University of East Anglia is home to Productivity East, a new regional hub for engineering technology and management. Launched in 2021 the £7.3 million facility boasts state of the art teaching and research facilities designed to create the engineers of the future. The initiative also works closely with local engineering businesses to form projects that co-create solutions to real-world industry problems.
The facilities at Productivity East include everything in the product development lifecycle. A fully equipped CAD studio supports new product design and simulation workflows, an impressive manufacturing suite offers the latest in both subtractive and additive production technologies, and a materials testing laboratory allows for accurate material characterisation.
In order to enhance its technology offering, the centre recently invested in an Indentation Plastometer from Plastometrex. The bench-top device measures accurate metal strength properties (stress-strain curves) from an automated 3-minute indentation test. The technology uses a novel “accelerated” inverse finite element method in order to do this. The system is being used globally by leading universities and companies such as The University of Oxford and Element Materials Technology.
The team at Productivity East will be using the technology to characterise the strength of a host of metallic materials and components. Historically, the mechanical characterisation of metal parts has been a slow, expensive, and inflexible process. The testing of small or complex geometries can be particularly challenging, because there is often not enough material available for traditional tensile testing. The Indentation Plastometer reduces the material volumes and times required for testing by over 90%. This allows users to rapidly characterise small parts and to map local variations across complex components.
Dominic Mitchell, Facility Manager at Productivity East had this to say about the technology:
“The Indentation Plastometer is an exciting new method for the mechanical testing of metals. It will be used extensively at Productivity East to rapidly and accurately test the metal components made in our manufacturing suite. The technology also has wide ranging and important applications in industry and we look forward to showcasing it to our industrial members.”
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