The Materials and Structures Testing Laboratory (MSTL) is part of the Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering (DICAM) of the University of Trento. Established in 1987, the facility has grown over the years along with its technicians, who have gained particularly wide professional experience. In 2003, the laboratory moved to its current location, specifically designed to perform tests on large-scale structures and heavy-duty structural elements.
The primary mission of MSTL is to support the academic research, higher education and teaching activities of professors and researchers of the University of Trento. At the same time, it offers its services to industry, national and international research institutions, government agencies and private bodies. The laboratory also works in the field of product certification, for nationally and internationally accredited agencies.
MSTL is an official laboratory of the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, and performs tests on building materials in compliance with the Italian Act 1086 art. 20, dated November 5th 1971; and the Italian Act 380 art 59 dated June 6th 2001. MSTL is also a member of the Italian University Laboratories Network for Seismic Engineering (ReLUIS), providing support to research in this field for the National Department of Civil Protection.
MSTL activities include organization and execution of tests, which can be performed either within the Laboratory facilities or in the field. Typical tests serve to characterize the mechanical or dynamic behavior of structures, structural elements, building materials, composite materials. Specimens tested in the past include, for instance, components of civil buildings, industrial buildings or infrastructures.
Since June 2013, the Materials and Structures Testing Laboratory is certified in compliance with standard ISO 9001:2008 and on 14 June 2018 renewed the certification according to the new ISO 9001:2015 standard for the following activities: “Execution of tests on materials, components and structures “.
THE MAIN EQUIPMENT
The essential parts of the Materials and Structural Testing Laboratory are the bi-directional reaction wall, consisting of a 9.5 m tall pre-stressed concrete wall, and the 42 m long reaction floor; both structures are endowed of regularly placed holes for a fast and effective connection of structures and loading devices. The wall and the floor are designed to resist forces of several MN, which are necessary to deform and seriously damage the full-scale test models of structures (see the maximum loading sketch below). They are equipped of an high-pressure hydraulic distribution system. Two 10 tons bridge-cranes permit the movement and positioning of test structures.
By means of computer controlled hydraulic actuators it is possible to expose full scale structures to dynamic strong forces and control the resulting displacements with high precision. In addition to static and cyclic tests on large structures and components, the facility is quipped for the so-called pseudo-dynamic test (PSD) technique, enabling the simulation of earthquake loading of full-scale buildings.