Simulation, analysis and testing

simulation analysis and testing hero

We offer a broad range of skills and experience in materials testing, characterisation and modelling.

These contribute to and support all of the work carried out by our Advanced Materials group. 

Our expertise can assist your business through:

  • Materials testing and characterisation (chemical and mechanical)
  • Non-standard technical investigations (forensic engineering). For example, determining the cause of failures and proposing solutions
  • Understanding the performance limitations of your materials and assessing potential alternatives
  • Providing materials modelling and simulation

Case studies

Assessing turbine blade stress

Assessing turbine blade stressBusiness opportunity
Turbine blades made of high-performance alloys are subject to high stress. This can lead to weaknesses developing in the alloy that can lead to failure.

What we can do
We can measure the distribution of stress in turbine blades and other metal components using 2D mapping.

Understanding how alloy materials are affected by mechanical stress enables new materials with superior performance to be developed. This reduces failure rates and can minimise engineering and materials costs.

Simulation and design of engineering properties for complex materials

Simulation and design of engineering properties for complex materialsBusiness opportunity
Designing complex structures to achieve optimal properties can a be time-consuming and costly process, especially if many iterations need to be manufactured and tested. A simulation and design strategy can be applied to many manufacturing challenges and opportunities. One example is the optimisation of the design and engineering performance of cellular pore arrays that are a critical feature of medical implants.

What we did
We used finite-element modelling to model our cylindrical test design, and then calculate a compressive stress vs strain map of the test cylinder. The design data was then used to 3D print an exact copy of the model in titanium. The compressive stress vs strain behaviour of the printed cylinder was measured and compared with the calculated behaviour.

We have a validated predictive model for pore array design for medical implant devices and an understanding of the effect of structure on the engineering performance. More generally, simulation enables a faster design process, with fewer manufacturing iterations required to optimise performance of the material, for whatever properties of the material are identified as critical.

Early identification of pitting corrosion

Early identification of pitting corrosionBusiness opportunity
The global cost of corrosion is estimated at US$2.5 trillion per year. Often corrosion begins at a single point and develops into a pit, which can lead to catastrophic failure.

What we can do
We can identify corrosion species present in a small area.

Identifying the source of corrosion before the problem escalates can help with the development of mitigation strategies, increase infrastructure lifetime, decrease failure rates and minimise downtime.

Extending the life of rechargeable batteries

Extending the life of rechargeable batteriesBusiness opportunity
Rechargeable batteries use a reversible chemical reaction to store and release energy. Battery materials degrade over time, so that eventually they cannot hold a charge.

What we can do
We can follow the chemical reactions that occur in battery materials through a charge-discharge cycle, and the extent to which these reactions are reversible.

Understanding the chemical reaction and the limiting current/voltage range enables new battery products to be produced that will last longer and endure more cycles.

Improving chocolate production

Improving chocolate productionBusiness opportunity
‘Fat bloom’ occurs in chocolate when cocoa butter separates from other ingredients and migrates to the surface. Although it is not harmful, it is unsightly and considered undesirable by consumers.

What we can do
We can measure the stability of cocoa butter and other fats to help guide the chocolate tempering process.

Understanding ‘fat bloom’ and selecting ingredients that are stable over a wider temperature range can be used to produce high-quality chocolate with a long shelf-life.

Materials performance assessment

Materials performance assessmentBusiness opportunity
Multiple ‘spontaneous’ failures of specialty windows occurred in a new multi-storey building.

What we did
We identified the cause of failure and predicted the future failure rate which, in this case, was minimal.

The building owner and tenants had confidence in a ‘take no action solution, saving the cost of replacing 1800 square metres of glazing and associated costs of disruption to business.

Knowledge of materials performance in a particular installation allowed an evidence-based management plan to be put in place.

Forensic examination in the aviation sector

Forensic examination in the aviation sectorBusiness opportunity
Unpredictable, premature wear of aircraft starter/generator carbon brushes forced unscheduled maintenance, creating expense and disrupting service delivery.

What we did
We measured brush materials parameters and correlated them with known service behaviour. A subtle change in material composition of a composite part, although fabricated by the original equipment manufacturer, resulted in unacceptable loss of performance in service.

A simple screening test was devised for suspected sub-standard batches of parts. With this knowledge the aircraft operator was able to retain the existing maintenance schedule, saving costs, avoiding downtime and reputational damage.