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Forest Products Laboratory
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726-2398
Phone: (608) 231-9200
Fax: (608) 231-9592


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Unit: Engineering Mechanics and Remote Sensing (EMRSL)

The Engineering Mechanics and Remote Sensing Laboratory (EMRSL) conducts physical and mechanical tests on a wide range of materials, building systems, and structures-from houses to transportation structures. Results inform the development of building codes and structural design.

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Research Focus Areas

Testing involves samples ranging from toothpick-sized to full structural beams (50 feet long) made of solid wood or combinations of wood fibers, plastics, adhesives, and metal.

Static tests can simulate snow loads or dead loads, while dynamic tests simulate seismic, fatigue, and wind loads.

The EMRSL uses desktop-sized testing machines, rated from 1 to 10,000 pounds, and standalone machines, rated from 60,000 to 130,000 pounds.

A strong floor and wall system allows researchers the ability to apply loads from multiple directions for full-scale testing of three-dimensional structures such as wood-framed building mock-ups up to 20 feet tall.

Equipment and Capabilities

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Strong Floor
  • 50 feet by 30 feet with anchor points at 2 feet on center, with 336 anchor points total
  • 3-foot-thick concrete with 0.875-inch-diameter rebar at 8 inches on center both ways
  • Top and bottom embeds for anchor points approximately 2 feet, 8 inches long
  • 1.25-inch-diameter threadbar with 2-inch by 6-inch by 6-inch steel plate cast in concrete
  • Compressive strength of 4,000 psi
Strong Wall
  • 10 "H"-shaped blocks, 10 feet on a side and 2 feet high stacking to 20 feet high total
  • 13 holes in each block for threadbar to fasten to strong floor anchor points
  • Pull-out capacity of 75,000 pounds at each anchor point
  • Maximum load capacity of strong wall with all 13 rods engaged at full 20-foot height is 50,000 pound horizontal load or 1,000,000 ft-lb moment

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Other Features
  • Strong wall sections each weigh about 15,600 pounds
  • Two 10-ton cranes that operate independently or synchronized
  • 60 Gallons per minute hydraulic system (capable of pressures at or below 3000 pis)
  • High-pressure hydraulics
  • High voltage
  • Accessible by 18-wheel trucks