University of Cambridge > > Physics and Chemistry of Solids Group > Highways and byways in the history of high rate mechanical testing

Highways and byways in the history of high rate mechanical testing

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Up until the Industrial Revolution, the dynamic mechanical properties of materials were only of importance in warfare, particularly after the powder-driven gun was invented. With the invention of the steam engine, the explosion of steam boilers (which is similar to the explosion of cannon) became a concern. When railways began to be built, the lack of knowledge of the dynamic properties of the iron alloys used in rails and railway bridges was understood to be a problem, but no way of measuring them was devised until the end of the 19th century. Ingenious mechanical (and later electromechanical) methods of recording signals onto rotating drums or moving smoked glass plates began to be developed from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. Optical/photographic methods of recording information from dynamic experiments date from the 1890s. The rod-on-anvil technique (later named after Taylor) was developed in France at the beginning of the 20th century but not mathematically analysed until the 1940s. The Hopkinson pressure bar was invented just before the start of the First World War and found to be useful in improving British artillery shells. It was then forgotten about until the Second World War when a two-bar version was developed for measuring the dynamic properties of soft materials such as explosives and polyethylene.

This talk is part of the Physics and Chemistry of Solids Group series.

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