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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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Testing Abilities

The Engineering Mechanics/Remote Sensing Laboratory's (EMRSL) primary task is to determine the basic mechanical properties of the material specimens given to us by FPL researchers and cooperators. These properties are found by testing materials according to conventional standards and calculating the properties according to the response of the specimens. The work of the Engineering Mechanics/Remote Sensing Lab is crucial to the Forest Products Lab's efforts to quantify the properties of materials and products that are used all over the world.


Modulus of elasticity (MOE) is a measure of material stiffness, or how much force it takes to deform a material. It assumes that the material behaves approximately in a linear-elastic manner for at least part of the test. MOE has units of force per unit area and is a function of the slope of the load/deflection curve that represents the test. The engineering mechanics laboratory uses the region of the curve between 20% and 40% of the maximum load as its linear-elastic region.


Researchers can determine a specimen's properties without placing a load on it. They use one of two ideas: first, that sound travels faster in stiffer materials and second that a stiffer material will vibrate faster when agitated. The tests are categorized as Non-Destructive Evaluation (NDE) since the specimen is not damaged by the test. This can be useful to researchers who want to keep a specimen intact for other tests, or for lumber buyers who want to know specific properties of each piece they buy.