Testing System Development for Creep Characterization of Polymers

R. Steinberger1), Sz. Vezer1), Z. Major2), R.W. Lang1,2)
Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH, Parkstrasse 11, 8700 Leoben, Austria
Institute of Materials Science and Testing of Plastics, University of Leoben, Franz Josef
Strasse 18, 8700 Leoben, Austria

Knowledge about the creep behaviour of polymers is fundamental for the design of parts, first, because many
polymers are subject to low but often long-term loads, second, because of the visco-elastic nature of
polymers, which makes their mechanical behaviour strongly dependent on time and temperature. An
appropriate creep tensile testing system was developed allowing the creep characterization of four
standardized polymer specimens simultaneously for loads up to 2000 N in a temperature range from room
temperature to 150 °C. Instrumentation possibilities range from LVTD, strain gauge, clip gauges to
temperature sensors. Furthermore, a custom video extensometer system was developed for the contactless
determination of the true specimen strain data in longitudinal and transverse direction. In this paper, the test
stand and the optical strain measurement system are presented. The data reduction procedure for the
determination of the creep modulus curves, the transverse vs. longitudinal strain curves and the isochronous
stress-strain diagrams is demonstrated on example results for polypropylene.


Polymer parts are subject to creep loading in many technical applications. Nonetheless, creep data are not
available for many materials because of the time consuming test method as compared to e.g. monotonic
tensile testing. Moreover, it is difficult to find appropriate creep testing systems on the market. For these
reasons, a new creep testing system was developed and implemented, customized to the creep
characterization of polymers and designed for an effective determination of creep data. It was furthermore
required to implement a strain measurement system for the acquisition of true specimen strain measurement.
This request is solved by a video extensometer, which - by the contactless measurement - has the further
advantage that it can measure longitudinal and transverse strain simultaneously (2-D video extensometer)
and does not influence the specimen behaviour like it can be the case with mechanical extensometers.
In the first part of this paper, the creep testing stand, the measurement system and especially the video
extensometer are presented and discussed. In the second part the data reduction scheme is demonstrated on
true video extensometer measurement data.
Creep Testing System
2.1 Loading Frame
The loading frame was designed with the following features:

4 loadings units for the simultaneous test of 4 specimens,
tensile and compression loading,
load range up to 2000 N,
maximum possible deformation: 20 mm,
tensile test specimen type: ISO 527-2 1A (multi purpose) and 1B,
Friction- and/or form-locking tensile specimen grips.

The specimen is loaded by weights via a cantilever. The weights can be retained and released by a
mechanical system via a hand wheel. This allows controlled application of the loads on the specimens. The

Each edge is fitted by a line. The gauge length lmeasured and specimen width b are determined along the symmetry axes of the specimen in the camera image in pixel units. developed in LabVIEW©.Temperature chamber Cameras Cantilever Weights a) b) Figure 1: Creep testing system:(a) Picture of the testing stand and (b) screenshot of the strain analysis software. The latter can be used for the following measurement tasks: • • • • • Load measurement. The position of the marks is determined via the light-dark transition of the edges of the marks. Distance changes between specimen and camera result in an apparent size change of the specimen in the camera image due to the perspective image formation: The object size will increase. The edge positions are determined by the edge detection functions of the vision development toolbox of LabVIEW© [1]. when the distance . which is described below. which is designed for temperatures from room temperature to 150 °C. A picture of the fully equipped creep testing stand is shown in Figure 1 a). The transverse strain is measured via the light-dark transition of the specimen to the background. 2. longitudinal and/or transverse strain measurement using specimens which are instrumented with strain gauges. using a strain gauge load cell. displacement measurement using a LVDT. The longitudinal specimen strain is determined by measuring the distance change between two marks applied to the specimen (see right half of the camera image). Video Extensometer The 2D-video extensometer hardware consists of four standard CCIR cameras . A screenshot of the image analysis software showing also an example image from the camera is given in Figure 1 b).2 Instrumentation The creep testing system is equipped with a video extensometer. halogen lamps for the illumination of the specimens and an image acquisition and analysis system. and a multipurpose data acquisition system based on the 8-channel multi purpose analogue digital converter Spider 8 from Hottinger Baldwin Messtechnik GmbH. specimen area is enclosed in a temperature chamber. The images can be acquired at a rate of up to 1Hz. and temperature measurement using thermocouples. which again consisits of a computer system with a frame grabber card and an image acquisition and analysis software.one per specimen. D. The acquisition rate can be defined as function of time. mechnical strain measurement using a clip on gauge extensometer. The image analysis is done in an offline process. The cameras deliver grey scale images of the specimen at a resolution of 768x572 pixels which are saved to the hard disk first.

For further information on the data reduction of tensile creep tests. time). Example data of the distance change Δz. This side view now allows the determination of the distance changes. Mirror Specimen Marks Camera Figure 2: Sketch of the setup of the video extensometer. lmeasured and the corrected l data are shown in Figure 3.decreases and vice versa. This procedure only corrects apparent size changes due to movement of the specimen in camera axis direction. please refer to [2. creep curves (strain vs. For the determination of C a calibration procedure is performed where images are acquired of an unloaded specimen in different positions. These data are saved to a file along with the specimen width b and time t. in this case the gauge length l. For this reason the distance change between camera and specimen is measured in the side view of the specimen. l0 b0 (2) where l0 and b0 are the initial gauge length and specimen width. The strains are finally calculated by εl = l b − 1 and ε t = − 1 . The strain values are calculated from the measured length and width. The further data reduction for the determination of the creep modulus curves. The measured gauge length lmeasured and specimen width b are corrected by the following equations: l = l measured (1 + CΔz ) and b = bmeasured (1 + CΔz ) . (1) where l is the corrected length. lmeasured and Δz are determined in the images and C is optimized in a way so that the changes in l minimize. so that the front and the side view of the specimen are acquired in the same image. . 3]. which then shows the narrow side of the specimen. The upper left diagram in the screenshot in Figure 1 b) shows the measurement data. Δz is the distance change of the specimen and C is the correction constant. the transverse vs. This effect highly influences the strain results. This is realized by positioning a mirror in the field of view of the camera. Changes of the angle between the specimen axis and the camera axis are not considered. b is the corrected specimen width. longitudinal strain curves and the isochronous stress strain diagrams is done in MATLAB©. In the camera image in Figure 1 b) the mirror is in the left half of the image. A sketch of the camera-mirror-specimen configuration is shown in Figure 2. creep modulus values and isochronous stress-strain diagrams are generated from the measurement series.

5 1. The images a) and b) show the specimen at the beginning and shortly before the Pa 5M 2 MP a Pa 4M 3M Pa a 3 MP 4M Pa 2 MPa a) 5M Pa b) Figure 4: Creep measurement result diagrams for various nominal stresses: (a) Longitudinal and (b) transverse strain vs.001 1 0. corrected 1. are shown as function of time in Figure 4. In one test run. at a specimen cross-section area of 40 mm2.1 Measured Strain Data The measured creep data. The loading units were adjusted to 80. respectively. 3. . measured l. Pictures of the specimen at different times of the test are shown in Figure 5. The data of the initial 30 s seconds show the unloaded specimen. longitudinal and transverse strain. The video extensometer can now not only be used to determine strain data. The diagrams presented below show the results of four simultaneously tested specimens. 4 and 5 MPa.999 0. time. The example creep data are determined on a glass bead filled polypropylene (PP). 120. but also to characterize the visual appearance of the specimen during the failure process. 160 and 200 N resulting in technical stresses of 2. 3. The specimens are then loaded within 1 to 2 seconds. the specimens are preferably exposed to a load series as it is done in the example presented.003 1. - Distance change Δz . 3 Data Reduction Procedure The data reduction procedure is presented in this chapter.004 Δz Dz 4 l. This failure is anticipated by an increasing slope in the longitudinal strain curve.002 2 Normalized length. pixels 3 1 0 -1 -2 1.997 -4 0. It can be clearly seen that higher creep loads result in higher strains. The test temperature is 50 °C.998 -3 0. The specimen at 5 MPa fails before the test is terminated.996 -5 0 a) 20 40 60 80 Image number 0 100 20 40 60 Image number 80 100 b) Figure 3: Distance correction: (a) measured distance change Δz and (b) measured length lmeasured and corrected length l.

4 Conclusion The creep testing system presented in this paper consists of (i) a four fold loading frame for tensile and compression loading at temperatures up to 150 °C and (ii) a flexible instrumentation concept for the adaptation of the measurement to the particular test performed. (c) crazes at t = 105 s. (d) shortly before failure at t = 1.104 s. the transverse vs. The following images c) to e) the growth of crazes and final failure. Furthermore.6 105 s. (e) after failure. 3. The results are creep curves for the longitudinal and transverse strain. The results are shown in Figure 7. longitudinal strain curves and the isochronous stress strain curves. specimen changes the optical appearance at time t = 6. The further data reduction comprises the determination of the creep modulus curves. This time correlates to the onset of the increase of the slope in the longitudinal strain curve. a custom 2D-video extensor 2 MP a 3M 5 MPa 4 MPa 4M Pa 3 MPa 5 2 MPa a) b) Figure 6: Creep strain curves for (a) longitudinal and (b) transverse strain. M Pa Pa .2 Processed Data The initial data of the creep measurement (unloaded phase and application of load) are removed and the time data are shifted so that the start of the loading becomes t=0. The diagrams are shown in Figure 6. (b) shortly before onset of crazing at t = 6.a) b) c) d) e) Figure 5: Image series of a creep test on a glass bead filled polypropylene: (a) unloaded.104 s.

Innovation and Technology with contributions from the University of Leoben (Institute of Materials Science and Testing of Plastics. this creep testing system allows an effective testing procedure.Determination of tensile properties . Austria) within the framework of the Kplus-program of the Austrian Ministry of Traffic.Concepts Manual. Austin: National Instruments. 1993. 2000 ed. ISO 527-1. Acknowledgements The research work of this paper was performed at the Polymer Competence Center Leoben GmbH (PCCL.Part1: General principles. who made the initial design of the creep testing stand. meter system allows the contactless measurement of longitudinal and transverse strain for the determination of not only creep strain and modulus curves but also transverse-longitudinal strain curves and finally time dependent Poisson’s ratio values. longitudinal strain curves and (c) isochronous stress-strain curves. 2000.Determination of tensile creep. 1981. With these features. Plastics . The PCCL is funded by the Austrian Government and the State Governments of Styria and Upper Austria. Plastics . Gernot Schaffler. (b) transverse vs. MPa 2 M Pa M Pa 4 M P 5M a Pa 3 Pa 3M Pa 4M 5 a) M Pa b) c) Figure 7: Creep test results: (a) Creep modulus curves. ISO 889. Future improvements and developments will comprise an extension of the temperature range to -20 to 250 °C and the implementation of testing methods with multi-axial stress states such as with notched specimens or plane strain or confined compression test configurations. Austria) and the Borealis GmbH (Austria).Pa 2M creep modulus E. References [1] [2] [3] IMAQ Vision . . It is successfully used for the creep characterization of polymers in a wide load and temperature range. Thanks are also due to Mr.