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New Instrument for Testing Steels

Following the tragedy of September 11, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST have developed a new instrument for testing steel elements salvaged from the World Trade Center.

Based on a device that has been used for many years for ballistics research in metallurgy, NIST’s new instrument consists of two 1.5m long hardened steel bars oriented end to end, that are propelled against one another at ballistic speeds by an air gun. In the process the sample is rapidly compressed. The NIST device also features the ability to heat the sample at rates of up to 50,000°C/second. This is monitored by a high resolution heat imaging microscope which can map the sample surface at a rate of a million times per second.

The new instrument will be used during the two year investigation on building and fire safety regarding the World Trade Center. In the process they will test how the various types of steel deformed under conditions similar to those of sustained during an aircraft collision.

Other areas where the instrument and information will be applied include:

  • Improved computer modelling of metal cutting machine tools
  • Crashworthiness of automotive materials
  • Protective capacity of armour
  • Resistance of structural steel to earthquakes

For more information on materials testing, click here.

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