Scalable Automation Brought to Materials Testing

Tinius Olsen brings scalable, fully automated robotic systems to various materials tests. 


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Elevating the process of materials testing is the theme at the Tinius Olsen exhibit with the introduction of new, scalable, fully automated robotic systems. This is the first time the company has exhibited an automation system at NPE. According to the company, automation of materials testing is now viable for plastics processors who may have thought they needed a certain production volume to move away from manual testing; they can benefit from productivity and repeatability, testing anything from packaging containers to medical drug dispensers. The company can deliver dedicated or combination systems that test tension, compression, flexion, or hardness—whatever the material or the quantity.

Whereas typically an operator can spend 8.4 hours per 24-hour day watching and waiting for tests to run, a robotic system for materials testing can continue running all day and night leading to gains against an operator of 59 hours a week/127 days a year. A scalable building block approach allows Tinius Olsen to offer systems from very low force applications, just a few newtons to very high force applications of a thousand kilonewtons or more. They can also use a single specimen handling system with a robotic handling arm to feed more than one testing machine. With the new technology, a processor can have a plastic test doing tensile on one machine and flex on another; or there could be two testing machines working on fastener testing, feeding, and managing; or there could be a Rockwell hardness tester and a tensile machine working together; or there could be tests for a drug delivery device, where the needle puncture force is tested on one station and the drug dispensing pressure in another. Additionally, with smartphones, monitoring apps, and an industrial camera sitting inside the automation cell, plant managers can view the robots and testing stations remotely from anywhere.

Tinius Olsen is currently working with a customer on a medical device application, testing drug-dispensing devices. Historically there have been three different individual stations, then multiples of those groups and lab operators 24 hours a day loading, testing, and removing the parts. Tinius Olsen is also working with global company that does rubber and plastics testing.