Full-scale specimen testing is an experimental work that involves subjecting prototypes of structures or specific structural components to loading conditions and magnitudes that closely simulate real-world usage scenarios. This testing is instrumental in evaluating the load carrying capacity, ductility, and overall safety of structural elements. To capture the responses of structures under these conditions, various equipment is employed, including sensors like displacement transducers, load cells, and strain gauges, coupled with a sophisticated data acquisition system (DAQ or Data Logger). These measuring systems enable automatic and high-speed data logging, providing invaluable insights into the deformation, force, and strain experienced by the structure.
While the deformation, representing the change in the shape of the structure, is typically determined from displacements at strategic locations, the displacement transducer plays a key role. This equipment captures small deformations and transmits electrical signals to the data acquisition system, ensuring accurate measurement with a resolution of around 50 microns or smaller. Strain, on the other hand, is measured using strain gauges installed on the surface of materials such as steel or concrete. The strain signals are then acquired and recorded for further analysis.
It’s worth noting that certain aspects of the testing process, such as failure or damage recording and mapping, still require some manual intervention. The test is often conducted to the post-failure load, allowing for the observation of strength deterioration. From the comprehensive test data, valuable information such as stiffness, maximum load carrying capacity, working load level, failure mechanisms, and ductility can be extracted, contributing significantly to the understanding and improvement of structural components.