You are not logged in

Impact Testing and Research

HSE possesses a range of world class facilities for small- and large-scale impact testing and high strain rate testing.

We conduct impact testing both for private industry and as the science and research centre of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Examples of the types of projects we have worked on for our clients include:

  • Crashworthiness of railway vehicles
  • Impact resistance of fuel tanks (automotive, plant, rail, etc.)
  • High speed impact testing of composite structures for the aerospace industry
  • Regulatory testing of transport containers for nuclear fuel
  • The performance of lifting slings under dynamic loading
  • The dynamic performance of wire ropes and chains
  • The dynamic tensile strength of webbings (such as those used in fall arrest lanyards)

This unrivalled combination of facilities, experience and expertise means that HSE's Impact Research facilities can fulfil almost any type of safety-related impact work in areas such as crashworthiness, secondary damage and regulatory testing.

Demonstrating our commitment to quality assurance, HSE's Science and Research Centre is ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 18001 accredited.

Impact Testing Facilities

The impact testing and high strain rate testing facilities provided 'off-the-shelf' by HSE include the longest gravity impact track in Europe, indoor and outdoor drop test facilities, and high velocity projectile delivery systems (gas guns).

All samples and prototypes tested in HSE's facilities can be instrumented with strain gauges, accelerometers, pressure transducers and load cells as required. Displacements can be measured directly using high speed video, line scan cameras and photo-electric sensors. High resolution laser scans can be provided pre- and post- impact to assist in understanding any deformations or damage that occurs.

Gas Gun High Velocity Projectile Delivery Systems

Our 25mm bore gas gun can test projectile masses typically ranging from 1g to 1kg at speeds up to Mach 1, with the potential for more depending upon requirements. The gas gun enclosure has two ports for high speed video that can enable co-efficient of restitution calculations. This facility can be used for test coupons, whilst a large enclosure also allows us to test components.

Main Impact Track

Our 265 metre main impact track consists of a single railway with two pairs of rails (outer and inner gauge)which run down profiled banks on either side of a valley into a flat section - the impact area - at the valley floor.  

The track can be used in single or dual truck configurations which is ideal for impact testing, collision testing, shock testing, high strain rate testing, wire rope testing and other compressive or tensile tests.  For example, when two trucks are used on the facility: a hammer truck runs on the outer gauge track and a sample bearing truck runs on the inner.

The railway impact track has a 4MJ maximum impact energy rating.

Haulage Impact Track

Adjacent to the main impact track facility is a slightly narrower gauge haulage impact track. Originally designed for testing haulage vehicles used in mines, this facility can also be used for impact and crashworthiness testing.

Indoor 10 Tonne Drop Rig

HSE's indoor vertical drop tower has a 10-tonne capacity hoist and a variable drop height up to a maximum for 4 metres. The rig's vertical height control and drop release system is accurate to 1mm. This means that the indoor drop tower is perfect for lower speed impact tests (impact velocities up to 8m/s) in precisely controlled conditions.

The indoor tower can also be used for high strain rate tests on, for example, webbings that might be used in fall arrest equipment.

Instrumented Falling Weight Impact Tester

Our guided drop impact test machine is suited to testing small objects with drop masses up to 25kg at impact speeds up to 20m/s. This equipment offers high resolution control and repeatability of tests with immediate post-processing of data. It also provides the facility to conducts tests under different environmental conditions ranging from -100OC to 250OC.

25 metre Drop Tower

For faster impact speeds, HSE possesses a drop tower which offers a drop height variability of up to 25 metres and the flexibility to accommodate a variety of instrumentation packages.

This drop tower is suitable for testing objects up to 1 tonne, giving impact energy of up to 240kJ at speeds of up to 20m/s.

Seismic Block/Unyielding Surface

For drop tests involving high mass objects, a 160 tonne, 4x4x4 metre concrete cube faced with a 50mm steel plate is available for use as an 'unyielding' drop target. The steel plate has been vacuum grouted to the 4 metre deep concrete block below. Pre-tensioned anchor bars fit through the steel plate to ensure that it is attached solidly to the concrete.

This facility has been used for the regulatory testing of prototype transport containers by the nuclear industry. For this testing, impact energies of around 150kJ were used, but this block is sufficiently strong to support significantly higher impact energies.

Further impact testing facilities

Plastic fuel tank testing

UN ECE Regulation 34 (Prevention of Fire Risks) has an annex which describes tests to be performed on fuel tanks made from plastic. The requirements of the Regulation are intended to ensure that plastic fuel tanks can tolerate the extremes conditions they might be exposed to.

The test requirements are:

  • to strike the tank (full of antifreeze and at -40°C), with a pyramid shaped impactor on a pendulum;
  • to pressurise the tank (full of water) to 0.3 bar, at +53°C, for 5 hours;
  • to monitor fuel losses over 8 weeks from a (half full) sealed tank at +40°C (after 4 weeks of preconditioning);
  • to expose three fuel tanks, (half filled with fuel),  to petrol fires for 1 minute directly, and 1 minute through a screen;
  • and to hold the tank, (half filled with water), at +95°C for one hour.

HSE has invested in the necessary test equipment to perform these tests.

Other testing machines

We also possess a Pendulum Rig that can be used for the impact testing of panels, and a Rosand machine which is suitable for laboratory-scale impact research such as fracture toughness testing.

In addition to these impact facilities, HSE provides world-class expertise in related disciplines including safety engineering; materials science; specialist photography including precision laser scanning and 3D CAD modelling;  wind tunnel measurements and fire and explosion studies.

Contact us to find out more about HSE's Impact Testing capabilities

To discuss your impact testing or high strain rate testing requirements, or for more information on the services provided by HSE, please contact:

Kate Jeffrey on +44 (0)203 028 2057

Back to the top