Ernest F. Fullam, Inc. specializes in providing accessories for electron and light microscopes. Its products range from tweezers to imaging systems, turbo evaporators, substages, specimen holders, micromanipulators, darkroom and general lab supplies. One of its more unique offerings is a hand-sized materials tensile tester that fits inside a scanning electron microscope vacuum chamber. The tester, which exerts a force as small as a few grams or as much as 1,000 lbs., can be used to test virtually anything from a human hair or a single carbon fiber to recording tape, metals and ceramics.
The testers perform a range of tests including tension, compression, vertical and horizontal bending and cyclic loading for fatigue testing. Optional heating and cooling units enable testing of materials at different temperatures. The advantage of the tensile tester is that researchers can measure crack propagations or grain rotation while observing the specimen under high magnification – up to several thousand diameters of magnification under an electron microscope. This enables greater insight into early stage fatigue and failure, and a better overall understanding of how materials perform.
The challenge from the start has always been data acquisition – capturing readings and moving the findings from the tester to spreadsheets and mdatabases for analysis. “We added a primitive data acquisition capability to our frame but could not find a software program that was designed for this type of work,” commented Fullam. “We tried using a standard laboratory information management system but it was patched together and it was very hard to integrate tensile test findings with data analysis tools.”
Fullam finally found the solution to his data acquisition problems when he found ADMET. ADMET’s MTESTQuattro is specifically designed to work with electrohydraulic and electromechanical testing machines. Said Fullam, “I contacted ADMET and found out that they’d be happy to work with me to create a packaged MTEST software system for use with my load frame.” ADMET developed a “Plug ‘n Play” level of integration for the Fullam system. “Now, when we receive an order, we send the frame to ADMET. They do all of the wiring connections and cabling – the whole package. When they return the full system to us, we test it using a laptop computer, add and test the other peripherals, and ship the whole package to our customer.”