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Large_Scale Structures Testing Facility


The large-scale structures testing facility consists of a universal testing machine (UTM), and a 13.7m-high reaction buttress equipped with a horizontal hydraulic ram. A combination of 4.5 MN horizontal force and 53 MN compressive vertical force may be applied to large-scale specimens.

Specifications / Capabilities:

The UTM portion of the facility is a hydraulically operated machine of 53.4 MN capacity and is the largest in the world. It is used to test large structural components and to calibrate very large capacity force-measuring devices. It can apply compression forces to column sections or fabricated members up to 18 m in height. The reaction buttress will resist horizontal forces of 4.5 MN at a level of 12.2 m from the floor.

Scientific Opportunities / Applications:

A testing program was conducted to evaluate the performance of concrete columns 1.5 m in diameter and up to 9.1 m high. Another test series evaluated fracture propagation in steel plates 1 m wide and 0.1 m and 0.15 m thick. Low-cycle fatigue tests, destructive or ultimate loads, earthquake simulation in two dimensions, and complex loading of components may all be accomplished in this facility.

Access Information:

This facility, which must be operated by NIST staff, is available for cooperative or independent research on a cost reimbursable basis. Tests should be arranged as far in advance as possible as special hardware may be required.


Name: Fahim Sadek
Phone: 301-975-4420
100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8611
Gaithersburg, MD  20899-8611