MRI: Acquisition of a Drop Tower Impact Test Capability at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Project: Research project

Project Details


This Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) award supports the acquisition of a drop tower impact test instrument at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Many component and structural failures are due to sudden catastrophic fractures that often occur without warning. The discipline that addresses these effects is fracture mechanics. If mechanical loading reach critical levels, catastrophic failure may occur. Understanding the conditions that may lead to fracture requires test facilities that can vary parameters such as temperature, component shape, and impact velocity. Sudden fracture events occur over very small timeframes, like milliseconds or microseconds. This requires high speed camera capability that can capture these events for detailed study. The drop tower impact test instrument has these features and complements a set of other test techniques at Penn State Erie. A wide range of materials, including metals, polymers and composites, can be understood in terms of their fracture behavior and this will enable closer collaboration with industry partners who must design failure resistant parts and structures. This instrument will also enable instruction on fracture and impact in engineering courses at the college level, while also supporting student centered undergraduate research, industrial workforce development in plastics engineering, and a summer outreach program with middle school girls.The primary objective of the research program to be centered on this acquisition is to explore the rate-dependence of the ductile/brittle fracture transition for both longstanding material formulations and new chemistries and microstructure distributions. The scope also includes use of this technique to induce controlled rapid deformation of oriented polymer samples to better understand strain-induced crystallization in thermoplastics, building on established research at Penn State Erie. Several fracture modeling analysis theories have been planned including essential work of fracture, crack opening displacement, crack tip opening displacement, virtual crack closure, and J-integral. All of these have limitations, often imposed by the fundamental material characteristics. In combination with numerical analysis techniques, the data provided by the drop tower impact test instrument capability will allow these modeling approaches to be evaluated, evolved and optimized for a broad range of polymeric, metallic and composite materials. The fundamental goal is to achieve reliable fracture models for materials of variable morphologies and architectures based on accurate characterization of material deformation and crack propagation.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date9/1/228/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $384,930.00


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