Synthetic Safety Test by Fatigue and Tensile Test Bed

Since 2013, Dr. Isaac Slaven, assistant professor in the School of Technology, has been working with students to test ropes for industrial purposes. The story began when he realized there are some misconceptions about the ropes’ strength between what manufacturers say and what has been told to consumers by retailers. Thus, Slaven and his team decided to test the ropes for different uses, including industrial safety use, to determine the correct answers to the questions and provide precise information for both customers and industries.

“We went from two students working on it to the last semester when we had 12 students working on it,” says Slaven. The main project started with several little projects challenging different equipment, mainly ropes, to assess the strength of equipment in real situations. The real situations are when the ropes are not only used more than once, but also might be used to hold different weights, which affects the safety of next time usage.

For this purpose, they employed a machine named Fatigue and Tensile Test Bed, which resides in Klehm Hall. The machine was designed by undergraduate students with a 20-horsepower motor and hydraulic pump in a metal frame; it is controlled by a programmable logic controller (PLC) to conduct different cycles with different forces on the rope in varying distances in a number of cycles predetermined by the test administrator.

While the machine is not ready to be used industrially (it is not yet certified to the ISO standards for this type of machine) it can still be used for education purposes when it comes to choosing ropes for different uses in a variety of circumstances.

During the project, Slaven has also worked with the EIU Department of Biology to take photographs of the broken ropes. They have utilized Nikon Optiphot microscopes, having installed AmScope MU300 to take photographs of broken ropes under different conditions. They have also used Adobe Photoshop CS 5.1 with ImageJ 1.49 application to analyze the scale of the taken pictures.

One of the special aspects of this project is that not many other researchers are working on industrial and general use of ropes in the area. Based on this, they have found some potential implications, which can be applied indirectly on the way customers use the ropes. They are keen to continue the research in the future to gain the required standard for the industrial needs.

For more information about this story please contact Dr. Isaac Slaven at islaven@eiu.edu.