skip to primary navigation skip to content


Project - Open source technologies for mechanical testing


Mechanical characterisation of materials involve kits able to control deformation and accurately measure forces. These instruments are expensive due to the high rigidity of the frame and small manufacturing numbers. However, recent actuator and sensor technologies, combined with open-source design have enabled the prototyping of instruments able to characterise at low cost the softer end of the materials, including many polymers, gels and biomaterials.


In this project, we will optimise further the design of the instrument to improve its rigidity and reliability. The student will then implement a real time optical monitoring system in order to couple the force read-out with optical monitoring of sample failure. Target applications will need to be selected during the project based on the device performance.

During this project the student will:

- learn about soft materials, mechanical analysis, imaging and sensing technologies,

- learn about 3D printing technologies,

- develop her/his team working skills,

- improve her/his communication skills by presenting results and generating public domain documentation.

Funding may be available as a UROP for the summer for the project.


Skills in programming and/or electronics are welcome.

A particular important output will be the documentation throughout the project, including software sharing on github or other open repositories.

Resources available

The student will be allocated a consumables budget of up to £500.

Project students will be required to spend an extra week after the end of their project integrating their work into the OpenLabTools web resource. Students will receive a £250 grant for that purpose. This contribution will not be assessed as part of the MEng project.

Project supervisor

Alexandre Kabla