Universal Testing Facility for Advanced Characterization of Automotive Materials

University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario
What the facility does

Tests and characterizes materials and structures under a variety of conditions to determine their mechanical properties

Areas of expertise

The Universal Testing Facility for Advanced Characterization of Automotive Materials determines the mechanical properties of materials and structures through standardized and custom testing and characterization methods, with a view to optimizing manufacturing processes and vehicle performance with the assistance of numerical simulations and analysis. The focus is primarily on materials used for the body and structure of vehicles but can be applied to any manufactured product. The researchers in this lab carry out numerical simulations and analyses of standard and non-standard material deformation testing as well as metal-forming processes. Researchers work with a wide range of materials, such as advanced high strength steels, aluminum and magnesium alloys, composite materials, polymers and bio-materials, analyzing their microstructures, as well as how these materials deform and fail. The researchers in this laboratory work closely with the automotive industry and other industrial partners to manufacture lighter-weight vehicles, develop lower cost manufacturing processes, optimize part designs, and improve the crash-resistance of vehicle structures by better understanding the deformation and failure mechanisms of materials.

Research services

Mechanical testing, material characterization, metal forming, manufacturing design and development, advanced manufacturing, productivity enhancement, modelling, process simulation, field testing, crash testing, mechanical engineering, design engineering, beta testing, pre-competitive research, confidential research, process optimization, light weighting, manufacturing cost reduction, microscopy of materials, nanotechnology, micro-scale mechanisms

Sectors of application
  • Manufacturing and processing



Universal Metal-forming Press

225-tonne double-action hydraulic press that forms sheet metal under virtually any type of deformation, including stretching, drawing, bending and shearing. The press is used to test sheet metal in a broad range of conditions and is equipped with a wide selection of dies and inserts for metal-forming operations.

Charpy Impact Tester

Large pendulum with a weight that fractures a specimen and measures the amount of energy absorbed by fracturing the specimen. This instrument is used to determine crash- and impact-resistance by characterizing the fracture toughness of material.

Split Hopkinson Bar Testing Facility

Measures the high-strain rate behaviour of materials by firing a projectile against an incident bar, and triggering a stress wave that propagates through a specimen. Used to characterize the behaviour of materials for input into crash simulations and high strain rate sheet metal forming simulations.

High-energy Drop Tower

Approximately 80 kJ capacity. Able to drop a 900-kilogram mass from a height of approximately nine meters, used to measure the impact resistance of a structure.

Low-energy Drop Tower

Approximately 8 kJ capacity

Hydroforming Press

750-tonne press that uses water pressure to shape tubular structures, such as engine cradles, radiator support frames, roof rails and instrument panel beams. Used to design stronger, more crash-resistant vehicles that are lighter weight. Required to help optimize the manufacturing performance of advanced materials.

Metallography microstructure analysis equipment (polishers, etchers, scanning electron microscopes, optical microscopes)


Optical strain measurement systems

Use high-resolution cameras and digital image correlation to measure how much a specimen has been deformed. This measurement system can be used to assess how much a material can be safely deformed without tearing, wrinkling or breaking. Both high-speed and low-speed optical strain measurement systems are available.

Dual Photron SA4 high-speed cameras


Tension/Compression Universal Testing Machines

Load capacity from 100kN-600kN

Pneumatic accelerator

Capable of firing projectiles with velocities up to 50 metres/second

Reciprocating Tribometer

Engine wear characterization

Forming Tribometer

Strain and friction measurement at sheet surface

Instrumented Machining Simulator

Drilling/tapping/milling of lightweight castings

Surface Profilometer / Interferometer

Roughness measurement

  • Amino North America Corporation
  • ArcelorMittal Dofasco Inc.
  • Chrysler Canada
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Motors Company
  • Novelis Inc.
  • Schukra of North America
  • The Narmco Group
  • The Windsor Mold Group
  • Valiant Machine and Tool Inc.
  • Vari-Form Inc.
  • Waltron Trailers Inc.
  • Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB)