The University of Southampton has been involved in materials consultancy for more than 20 years. Originally this was conducted under the banner of the Engineering Materials Consultancy Service that became part of RIfI in 2002.
RIfI can call upon the expertise of 24 academics, seven research fellows and 33 post-graduate students in the Materials Research Group. This Group is actively engaged with the aerospace, automotive, marine, defence and renewable energy sectors.
RIfI has access to state of the art mechanical testing facilities in the Transport Systems Research Laboratory (screw driven and servo-hydraulic machines), including environmental chambers, condition monitoring (acoustic emission, PD, surface replication, fractography), digital image strain mapping and nano-hardness testing. This allows us to offer everything from property determination such as tensile properties, fracture toughness, S-N fatigue strengths and fatigue crack growth rates to more sophisticated analysis that can be related to actual components.
Much of our work is concerned with determining why critical components have failed during service. The techniques highlighted above allow us to check material properties and composition against specifications and determine the mode of failure e.g. overload, fatigue, corrosion etc. We have conducted failure analyses on a wide range of components including ships propellers, engine parts and production tooling. Certain investigation have tuned into legal claims where we have provided Expert Witness services.
Dr Brian Mellor – Principal Consulting Engineer