Testing lab and innovation: the future speaks electric

The evolution of testing machines

Far in the 1955, mechanical testing labs saw the “first testing revolution”: the hydraulic technology was applied for the first time on a testing machine. After six decades, we’re going to meet the “second testing revolution”: the electrical technology is ready for disrupt the hydraulic in the worldwide labs.

STEP Lab was born in 2009, as a pioneer of this revolution, from the first day it started with studying and developing dynamic and high load testing systems based on electrical motions. STEP Lab is focused on technologies that could replace the older one oil-based in an efficient and high performing way. The product range currently is divided on two main families:

Electromechanical actuators, based on special ball screw, specifically developed for the testing applications.
This technology is the best solution for:

  • Dynamic tests on position and force control-loop, up to 35 Hz, with acceleration up to 20 m/s2;
  • Static tests on position control-loop;
  • Static tests on force control-loop (creep tests).

Currently the electromechanical actuator’s product range cover a wide force range: from 1.5 kN to 225 kN of dynamic force and from 5 kN to 195 kN of static force. These values permit to replace the 95% of the world hydraulic applications on the testing field.

Electrodynamical actuators, based on high dynamic linear motors.
This technology is the best on the market for the following applications:

  • Dynamic tests on position and force control-loop, with test frequency greater than 200 Hz, and acceleration above 750 m/s2 (75 g);
  • High strain rate tests;
  • Reproducing in-lab the acquisition of time history with high dynamics, for example the loads applied on a downhill’s fork or on a motorbike’s suspension.

The maximum dynamic load reached by STEP Lab electrodynamical actuators is 40 kN, greater than the values reached by the competitors!

What are the pro & cons given by the “electrical testing machines revolution” versus the old hydraulics systems?

The electrical technology has some very important advantages which includes economy aspects and also human and planet health aspects. They are collected in the next chart.

Electrical/electrodynamic
actuatorsHydraulic
 actuators
Installation impact and costsVery low, it’s like plug and play machine. Need only to connect the electrical plug.Usually require high costs for installing also the hydraulic pump.
Operating costsVery low, the electrical actuation has very high efficiency.Very high costs caused by low efficiency.
Ordinary maintenance costsVery low, the right designed actuators permit infinite life for the components.Very high, periodically require to change the oil and the seals.
Air pollutingNull. It is the perfect solution for work in cleanroom.Very high polluting of the environment with the oil vapours.
Environment pollutingNull.Very high polluting of the environment with the oil vapours, and very high costs for change the waste oil.
Operating noiseAlmost null.Very high. It could require hearing protection for the workers, or special infrastructure for the noise isolating.

Currently the main markets of STEP Lab are geographically distributed in Europe and Asia. Principally South Korea and China for the Asian market, Italy and Germany for the European one.

About the German market STEP Lab plans to attend to some important fairs and events. The most important event is organized by STEP Lab at the Aschaffenburg Technischen Hochschule on 11th March 2020. It is possible to take part for free. Registration is required by sending email to info@step-lab.com or filling the form on the bottom of the page. During this event STEP Lab will show his linear motors machine running, focusing on the performances and the testing software’s features.