Physical Element Testing

The group has a well-equipped structural testing laboratory capable of performing physical tests on a wide range of construction products from individual beams, panels or fasteners to complete building envelope and light steel or timber frame assemblies. The equipment in the laboratory is complemented by an experienced team of engineers capable of analysing the test results, performing advanced structural modelling (e.g. finite element analysis) and, where appropriate, working with clients to improve the performance of their product or system.

Physical testing of construction products is often required to evaluate their structural resistance, assess their performance against theoretical or computer-generated predictions, to demonstrate performance as part of an accreditation process (e.g. CE marking), or as part of a product development programme. In some instances the test requirements are clearly defined by a British Standard or Euronorm, but in many cases it will be necessary to devise a suitable test programme to meet the specific requirements of the client and performance characteristics of the product. Over recent years, the group has undertaken a wide variety of tests on a range of products and is well-qualified to advise clients on issues such as test set-up, test programme (number and type of test) and specific sampling and testing requirements for CE Marking.

The central feature of the structural laboratory is a large reaction frame. This has been designed to accommodate a range of shapes and size of test specimen from purlins, joists or cladding panels up to 8m long to rectangular sections of wall or flooring system. The majority of tests undertaken in this rig involve the application of either bending or compression loads to structural elements. However, a recent extension to the rig means that it is now also capable of undertaking racking tests on light steel or timber frame wall panels. In all cases, loads are applied to the test specimen by one or more computer-controlled hydraulic jacks, ensuring precision loading at a pre-determined rate.

Smaller products such as wall ties or brackets may be tested in tension or compression in one of the laboratory’s smaller testing machines. These machines may also be used to undertake shear tests on fastener assemblies.


Director of OISD Architectural Engineering
Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development
Oxford Brookes University
Headington Campus
Oxford, OX3 0BP

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 483208