Design and manufacturing of a temperature controlled chamber for a tensile testing machine
Material testing is an important test to researchers in material science fields and other engineering related fields. This is the base for material evaluation prior to the application. This test is used in the engineering field to determine the strength of materials which is an aspect of assigning materials to different functions. The uniaxial tensile testing of material is the most common form of testing the strength of metallic material - usually to investigate whether or not the material is worthy of the intended application. Material testing is normally performed under uncontrolled conditions in most laboratories. Numerous attempts had been previously made in attempt to control the temperature conditions when performing the tensile test on special materials such as shape memory alloys (SMA) and other smart materials. Various methods had been employed to control the temperature during tensile testing, methods such as induction heating, warm liquid baths, etc. The aim of this study was to develop a temperature controlled environment for the Houndsfield tensile testing machine which is found at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the Mechanical Engineering Department workshop. This was achieved through designing and manufacturing of a thermally controlled chamber -better known as a furnace. This chamber was tested for the optimal combination of proportional, integral and derivative parameters which were tuned on the proportional integral derivative (PID) controller. Performing the tensile test under controlled thermal conditions will allow the analysis of SMAs and other materials behaviour at different temperatures. With the aid of the manufactured chamber, the superior features of the SMA will be able to be studied. The manufactured thermal chamber which is electrically powered is insulated with a special ceramic refractory material to prevent the heat from escaping the chamber. The PID controller was used to control the temperature and heating elements act as the heat source. The manufactured chamber could withstand the maximum temperature 350oC that it was initially designed for. However, the challenge of having the specimen to be tested fully inside the chamber was overcame by designing specimen connectors that connected the specimen to the tensile testing machine. Tensile tests were conducted on the SMA wire at room temperature and other various controlled temperatures and different behaviours were observed on the stress-strain graphs.