V13 - GEN - Lead Story

Is Your Universal Test Machine HD-Ready?

MTS EM Product Manager Vogel Grote talks about the newly improved MTS Insight® digital controller, which helps material test labs extend the utility of their universal test machines and glean higher-resolution test data in a fraction of the time.

Q: How exactly have you enhanced the EM controller, and why?
Grote: Test labs today face increasing pressure to use their existing universal test machines to conduct a wider range of testing and acquire more detailed results in far less time. Recognizing this, we set out to leverage the efficiencies of digital technology to help our customers meet these aggressive demands.

The end result of our efforts is an improved MTS Insight digital controller that is capable of achieving an industry-leading 1,000 Hz data acquisition rate. To put this figure in perspective, the standard data acquisition speed for EM controllers is 50 Hz. So, this new controller is 20 times faster than other EM controllers on the market.

The improved digital controller is available to MTS customers as an integral component of an MTS Insight universal test machine, or with an MTS ReNew™ upgrade to a legacy EM test system.

Q: How will material test labs benefit from the new MTS Insight controller?
Grote: Test labs will benefit directly from the new high-frequency MTS Insight controller in two significant ways. First, they’ll be able to extend the utility of their existing EM systems to include more complex quasi-cyclic test applications not possible with lower frequency controllers. Second, they’ll be able to use their existing EM systems to acquire “higher-definition” monotonic test data in far fewer test cycles.

With a 1,000 Hz data acquisition rate, the new MTS Insight controller allows you to generate sinusoidal wave shapes, or ramp waves. This capability makes it possible to extend the functionality of your universal test machine to include tension-tension, compression-compression, and other types of quasi-cyclic testing.

Higher definition data also means more meaningful analysis. With access to data points not available at the lower data acquisition frequencies, it is possible to achieve a more accurate picture of material behavior under test, along with higher fidelity across test runs. Additionally, high-frequency DAC will enable test labs to gain statistically significant test samples in a fraction of the cycles that are required when acquiring data at 50 Hz.

In other words, the improved MTS Insight digital controller benefits material test labs in the ways that matter most: less money spent on additional equipment for more complex tests, and less time spent on accurately characterizing the performance of each material that passes through their facility.

In today’s time- and cash-strapped material testing environment, these advantages are simply too valuable to miss. Every material test lab should go HD with their data acquisition as soon as possible.

Q: Explain further how higher frequency leads to more accurate and meaningful results.
Grote: It’s similar to comparing a high-definition television (HDTV) to a standard-definition TV. Like pixels on a high-definition TV screen, this controller acquires 20 times more data points than a standard-definition controller to create an image of the test results that is 20 times clearer.

A curve comprised of so many more data points yields deeper insight into a material’s performance characteristics. With 1,000 Hz data acquisition rate, you have a far better chance of accurately determining cyclic maximums and minimums, or pinpointing the exact moment a specimen reaches its yield, ultimate stress, and breaking point.

You could easily miss such critical transition points at a 50 Hz data acquisition rate. Historically, this low-resolution rate has forced test labs to run a high number of tests in order to derive an average peak from a statistically valid sample group.

And in the same way an HDTV reveals crisp details that aren’t visible on a standard-definition set, the MTS Insight controller’s 1,000 Hz data acquisition rate reveals subtle details about a specimen’s performance that remain undetectable at 50 Hz. For example, high-definition data will more precisely reveal when a material with nonlinear performance characteristics begins to exhibit secondary and tertiary behaviors.

Q: What other enhancements have you made to the MTS EM offering?
Grote: We recently expanded our line of MTS Insight test systems to support a broader range of load and height requirements. Test labs will now find more options for supporting larger specimen sizes and environmental chambers, all as part of our standard offering.

We also introduced version 4.11c of TestWorks® software, which is now fully compatible with Windows® Vista, Mongoose controllers, and IEEE standards. This compatibility allows test labs to capitalize on the productivity advantages of Microsoft’s latest operating system, while making the most of their legacy hardware.

Q: What else can test labs do to make their universal test machine HD-ready?
Grote: As with all electronic systems involving multiple components, the "weakest link" principle applies here. For example, the protocol you use to connect your CPU and controller can impact data acquisition speeds. We’ll discuss these connection considerations in detail in future Force & Motion newsletters.


MTS Systems

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