Instant replay

A video playback function from Test Machines Australia allows for more value to be extracted from each test. Manufacturers’ Monthly explains.

While conducting a test of a material is an essential part of the prototyping and design process, understanding the results of the test is not always straightforward.

Test Machines Australia, local distributor of Tinius Olsen’s material testing machines, can now offer manufacturers a new service that helps with analysing the results of a test.

Incorporated into Tinius Olsen’s Horizon software is a video replay function, whereby the results of the test can be seen as a video. Paul Cibotto, managing director of Test Machines Australia, highlighted how seeing the results of a test can provide a better understanding of how a material reacts to a stress.

“When we perform a test, as the test happens, the sample will deform in shape. As the sample stretches or compresses as the test happens, the sample will change shape, and now we can visually see all of that.”

The visual representation of
a material undergoing a test has until now been the domain of video extensometers, a precise, but expensive, piece of equipment.

“A video extensometer will cost $50,000. This is basically a webcam that connects to the software. It is a relatively low price for an extremely effective outcome.”

What makes this solution distinct, however, is its integration with Tinius Olsen’s Horizon software.

“What this will do is record video,” said Cibotto. “While anybody can do that with their phone, for example, what they can’t do is they can’t marry up the time with the actual test.”

For current users of Tinius Olsen testing equipment, the 2D graph which charts the stress the material undergoes during the test remains with the addition, however, of real- time video to show everything else that is happening to the material beyond what is captured in the graph. Having the two visualisations of the results synched allows for accuracy in results analysis.

“You’ve got the 2D graph and the video, and they’re coming up at the same time,” said Cibotto. “When I pause the replay, it pauses the screen and the graph; when I rewind the test, it will rewind the video and the graph. I can go to the 59 second point and exactly see what the test is doing and where it is.”

This functionality, the ability to pause and replay and then determine what is occurring to the sample at determined levels of stress, allows for a greater level of understanding of how a material is reacting to pressure or force.

“We can pause the video, or we can replay the test at any time. And we can look at what the sample has done, we can go forwards and backwards and we can watch the sample at this much force, determine that the sample did this, and at this much force the sample did that.”

Materials testing standards set the speed and levels of stress that a material must withstand for its use in industrial, commercial, or research purposes. Knowing how a sample reacts to stress can enable the designer to go back with a greater knowledge about what is causing a break or fracture.

“We can see the sample was perfectly straight until this point when, bang, something happened, and we can visually see that and marry that up to the curve on the test,” said Cibotto.

With the testing of a component being a valuable, yet sometimes expensive exercise, having a video replay function allows for more information to be gleaned from each test, as Cibotto highlighted.

“When you may have spent three months making a prototype, once you break it and if you miss what happened to the sample it’s all over. A video recorder is a valuable thing because you can replay the run an unlimited number of times and you can see what really happened to that $50,000 prototype you designed.”

With the video playback program allowing for frame-by-frame playback, the crucial time at which a sample broke or fractured can be extensively analysed.

“You can predict a lot of things and, in the video, you can see exactly what it did and how it did it,” said Cibotto. “The last 10 seconds are usually the most important in a test, but you can’t slow the test because the standard will call for a certain speed. But you can slow down the replay, so you can visually see what’s happening and how it’s happening.”

In addition to the visualisation potential on the monitor directly connected to the testing equipment, results can be sent to other users who can then view the test independently. This allows for greater collaboration between teams that are spread out, particularly in a university context, as Cibotto noted.

“If we’re in a university, we can show our teacher later on how the sample behaved during the test – for example, if the sample stretched thinner before it blew apart,” he said.

Cibotto also sees the program being particularly useful for testing houses to demonstrate to their clients what occurred to a prototype undergoing a test.

“Because customers will be going to them to get the test done – they don’t visually see the test being done, all they do is get a result. Especially if the result is bad, they don’t necessarily know what happened during the test. With this recording, they can then
see what happened in the test, and they can verify the results themselves because they can see how their sample behaved during that test.”

There is also a safety element to being able to review the test after the event. While a test could be observed as it is occurring, if a material shatters in an unexpected manner, the test machine must be contained, blocking out potential viewing angles.

“Quite often you may not want to be too close to the sample as the test is happening for safety reasons,” said Cibotto. “There might be a safety cage around the machine, because
as the sample deforms it breaks or shatters. Once I had a customer do a concrete sample and, as it shattered, a piece of concrete went through the computer monitor.”

In addition, video replay functionality can allow for different elements of the material to be viewed.

“With our eyes, we might be so busy looking at one part of the sample that we miss what is happening on the other part of the sample. With the video we can replay the run and look at the top piece, at the middle piece, and the bottom section.”

The video playback function is available for any Tinius Olsen testing equipment that uses the Horizon software: the software only needs to be updated to the latest version and the Tinius Olsen help desk is available to assist if needed.

“This is all backed up by Tinius Olsen’s 18-month warranty,” said Cibotto. “That’s a feature that no one else has.”