Mechanical Testing of Common-Use Polymeric Materials With an In-House-Built Apparatus


  • Cristiana Pedrosa University of Porto
  • Joaquim Mendes University of Porto
  • Fernao D. Magalhaes


A low-cost tensile testing machine was built for testing polymeric films. This apparatus also allows for tear-strength and flexural tests. The experimental results, obtained from common-use materials, selected by the students, such as plastic bags, illustrate important aspects of the mechanical behavior of polymeric materials. Some of the tests performed in class are illustrated in the paper, involving tensile and tear-strength testing of HDPE films and flexural testing of polystyrene bars.

Author Biographies

Cristiana Pedrosa, University of Porto

Cristiana Pedrosa graduated in chemical engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), Portugal, in 2004. She is currently working as a research assistant on permeation measurements on porous materials.

Joaquim Mendes, University of Porto

Joaquim G. Mendes is an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department at FEUP, Portugal. He graduated in mechanical engineering from FEUP in 1988 and obtained a post-graduate degree in automation and management of industrial processes in 1989. He received his M.Sc. in industrial computing and his Ph.D. in industrial automation from FEUP and the University of Minho, respectively. His research interests include sensors, data acquisition, remote labs, and virtual instrumentation.

Fernao D. Magalhaes

Fernao D. Magalhaes is an assistant professor in the chemical engineering deparment at FEUP, Portugal. He graduated in chemical engineering from the same faculty and received his Ph. D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1997. Among other courses, he is currently teaching an introductory course on polymer science and technology. His main research interests involve-in addition to polymeric materials applied to the wood and paint industries-mass transport and sorption in porous solids and membranes.