Advanced science.  Applied technology.


SwRI expands its Heavy Article Test facility

San Antonio — Oct. 21, 2015 — Following a recent upgrade, the Heavy Article Test facility at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is now available for fabricating and testing structures such as full-scale airplanes, large-scale industrial robots and automation systems, or other items. The upgrade added nearly 6,500 square feet, bringing usable working space to 14,350 square feet.

The original facility, completed in July 2014, included 100-ton and 50-ton bridge cranes. The upgrade added a 25-ton bridge crane with a 45-foot hook height. The additional square footage includes office space, a second controlled laboratory area, and an 8,000-cubic-foot test pit. Large hangar doors on the north and south walls provide easy access to the high bay, allowing trucks to drive through the facility when delivering large, heavy items. Other added features include a fully controllable air exhaust system for removing heat and fumes, and a 95-ton capacity air-cooled water chiller.

“The added space and ready access allow us to safely handle, fabricate, and test very large structural and mechanical systems,” said Tim Fey, director of the Structural Engineering Department in SwRI’s Mechanical Engineering Division. “As examples, we can now perform full-scale static and fatigue testing on aircraft with larger wing spans and heights, pressure vessels, blast-containment structures, and other large components for a variety of clients, including the oil and gas industry.”

“This facility augments our laboratories for developing, fabricating, integrating, and testing large-scale industrial robots and automation systems,” added Paul Evans, director of the Manufacturing Systems Department in SwRI’s Automation and Data Systems Division.

SwRI has a long history of designing, fabricating, and testing large structures for commercial and government clients. Previously, SwRI has built a one-quarter scale submarine, tested full-scale aircraft, and designed and fabricated a variety of robotic systems.

For more information about SwRI’s structural engineering and robotics programs, visit and

For more information, contact SwRI Solutions.