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Universal Testing Machine
A modern universal testing machine
Test fixture for three point flex test
A universal testing machine (UTM), also known as a universal tester,materials testing machine or materials test frame, is used to test the tensile strength and compressive strength of materials. An earlier name for a tensile testing machine is a tensometer. The "universal" part of the name reflects that it can perform many standard tensile and compression tests on materials, components, and structures (in other words, that it is versatile).
Several variations are in use. Common components include:
Load frame - Usually consisting of two strong supports for the machine. Some small machines have a single support.
Cross head - A movable cross head (crosshead) is controlled to move up or down. Usually this is at a constant speed: sometimes called a constant rate of extension (CRE) machine. Some machines can program the crosshead speed or conduct cyclical testing, testing at constant force, testing at constant deformation, etc. Electromechanical, servo-hydraulic, linear drive, and resonance drive are used.
Means of measuring extension or deformation - Many tests require a measure of the response of the test specimen to the movement of the cross head. Extensometers are sometimes used.
Output device - A means of providing the test result is needed. Some older machines have dial or digital displays and chart recorders. Many newer machines have a computer interface for analysis and printing.
Conditioning - Many tests require controlled conditioning (temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.). The machine can be in a controlled room or a special environmental chamber can be placed around the test specimen for the test.
The set-up and usage are detailed in a test method, often published by a standards organization. This specifies the sample preparation, fixturing, gauge length (the length which is under study or observation), analysis, etc.
The specimen is placed in the machine between the grips and an extensometer if required can automatically record the change in gauge length during the test. If an extensometer is not fitted, the machine itself can record the displacement between its cross heads on which the specimen is held. However, this method not only records the change in length of the specimen but also all other extending / elastic components of the testing machine and its drive systems including any slipping of the specimen in the grips.
Once the machine is started it begins to apply an increasing load on specimen. Throughout the tests the control system and its associated software record the load and extension or compression of the specimen.
Machines range from very small table top systems to ones with over 53 MN (12 million lbf) capacity.