and Materials

Mechanics and Materials








The Mechanics and Materials Section of Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) focuses on structural integrity and reliability assessments. These assessments are achieved through combined experimental-analytical/numerical approaches designed to understand and characterize the fundamental mechanical behavior of materials to predict their performance when used in a variety of applications from aerospace and oil exploration structures to microelectronic and biomedical devices.

Mechanical Characterization

The mechanical characterization area focuses on the development and execution of testing designed to characterize the mechanical response and behavior of structural materials subjected to a variety of loading conditions and environments. Considerable emphasis is on

  • Fatigue life characterization
  • Fatigue and spectrum crack growth
  • Corrosion-fatigue testing

Advanced instrumentation, control algorithms, and data acquisition systems allow measurement of detailed material properties. Mechanical characterization is performed in a 6,500 sq. ft. Solids and Fracture Mechanics Laboratory equipped with nearly 40 servohydraulic test frames ranging in capacity from 1 to 300 kips.

Materials Integrity and Lifing

The integrity and lifing area focuses on the development of advanced models that describe:

  • Material behavior
  • Response and damage evolution for use in structural integrity assessments
  • Lifetime and remaining life predictions
  • Structural health management of engineered components, structures and systems

The integration of materials science and applied mechanics is used to develop models describing the mechanical response and performance of a variety of engineering materials used in a wide range of engineering applications. Particular areas of emphasis are:

  • Fracture mechanics
  • Fatigue and fatigue crack growth
  • Computational material modeling

Probabilistic Mechanics and Uncertainty Modeling

The probabilistic mechanics and uncertainty modeling area focuses on the development of accurate and efficient probabilistic methods to quantify the reliability, reduce over-conservatism, and identify critical parameters and failure modes that govern the reliability of complex, large-scale engineering applications. Particular emphasis includes the application of advanced probabilistic methods for computationally intensive, physics-based models of high reliability applications where traditional Monte Carlo simulations are impractical. Novel methods are developed to incorporate expert opinion into the probabilistic analysis without introducing biases in the representation of sparse data.

Bone and Biomechanics

The bone and biomechanics area focuses on the fundamental understanding of the relationship between biological, mechanical, and damage evolution behavior of biological and biomaterials in order to quantify the risk of failure and injury. Considerable emphasis is focused on the hierarchical characterization of bone tissue material and mechanical properties in order to understand the relationship between mechanics and biology and to quantify the risk of bone fracture. Statistical shape and density modeling approaches have been developed to assess variations in geometry and density on bone strength. Advanced probabilistic approaches are used to quantify the injury potential of musculoskeletal structures.

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Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, is a multidisciplinary, independent, nonprofit, applied engineering and physical sciences research and development organization with 11 technical divisions.