Materials and Structural Testing Core personnel are available to consult with investigators who need assistance with designing a project or better understanding the core's services. To arrange a consultation, contact Kristin D. Zhao, core manager.


Devices and equipment for use in research or patient care can be designed and fabricated by the Materials and Structural Testing Core. Items are fabricated in the core's machine shop by an engineer with more than 20 years of experience.

Examples include:

  • Custom surgical tools
  • Experimental testing equipment and instrumentation
  • Test frames, jigs and forms
  • Molds for parts and tissue scaffolds
  • Implants
  • Robotic joint simulators, including those for the wrist and hip

Material testing: Nanoscale to macroscale

The core is able to perform material property testing of hard and soft biological and nonbiological tissues. This includes cyclic, viscoelastic, hardness (both conventional and nanoindentation), compression and tensile testing.

These testing services have been used for a wide array of projects. Examples include evaluating aortic leaflet stiffness, fatigue properties of pelvic mesh materials, stiffness of imaging phantom model materials, hardness of trabecular bone in animal models of osteoporosis and compressive properties of tissue-engineered cartilage.

Testing may be performed on one of three servohydraulic biaxial material testing machines:

  • Model 312 (MTS Systems Corp.)
  • Model 858 Mini Bionix II with environmental chamber (MTS Systems Corp.)
  • Model 1321 (Instron)

Also available is an ElectroForce 3200 electromechanical testing system (Bose Corp.) with dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) capabilities.


Using a Hysitron TI 950 TriboIndentor nanoindentation system, the core can perform microscale testing of materials. This service, which is relatively new in the core, has been used to examine bone trabeculae and polymer material properties.

Biomechanics-related image analysis and finite element modeling

Image analysis and modeling services are available to noninvasively analyze and quantify various biomechanical measures. Such tools have been used in implant design to evaluate strength and optimize geometry with respect to anthropometric features. Models can simulate static and dynamic activities. Combined with laboratory capabilities to physically validate models, this is a powerful tool.

Software tools available for this service include Analyze, Mimics, Abaqus and SolidWorks.

Kinematic acquisition and analysis

Cadaveric and in vivo measures of kinematics are obtained with state-of-the-art hardware, including:

  • Optotrak Certus (Northern Digital)
  • Fastrak (Polhemus)
  • Liberty (Polhemus)
  • ShapeTape (Measurand)

Three-dimensional scanning is performed using a FastSCAN laser scanner (Polhemus), while joint surface pressure mapping is accomplished using Tekscan pressure mapping technology. Data analysis is performed in MATLAB.

Kinematic data from cadaveric studies has been used to validate new technologies and design new surgical devices. Patient kinematics have been used to address movement-related pathologies for the design of potential interventions.