Waterloo Forming and Crash Laboratory

University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario
What the facility does

Forming and performance testing of lightweight materials and structures

Areas of expertise

The Forming and Crash Lab at Waterloo is a world-class facility for the characterization and computer simulation of the manufacturing (sheet metal forming) and performance (crashworthiness) of lightweight structures for the transportation sector. It is one of the few university laboratories in the world addressing both fabrication and performance. Researchers in the laboratory work closely within a multi-million dollar research program with automotive original equipment manufacturers, Tier 1 parts manufacturers and materials suppliers. They deliver both long-term graduate research and short-term proprietary research and testing.

Research services
  • Constitutive characterization of lightweight materials (tensile and compressive testing at room and elevated temperatures)
  • High strain rate material characterization (strain rates up to 1, 000/s)
  • Sheet metal formability characterization at warm and elevated temperatures
  • Hot stamping (press hardening) of ultra-high-strength steels
  • Large-scale crashworthiness testing of components, sub-assemblies and structures
  • Numerical simulation and material model development for all of the above topics (focus is on using LS-DYNA and AutoForm)
Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Automotive
  • Clean technology
  • Defence and security industries
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Transportation
Specialized LabEquipmentFunction

Metal Forming Infrastructure


Large-scale 900 Ton Forming PressFeatures a 1,200 mm x 1,800 mm bed size and is triple acting with a large oven for blank heating and automated blank transfer system. The main punch has a fast approach speed for hot stamping and the press has 24 control zones for die heating.
 Medium-Scale 125 Ton Hot Stamping PressFeatures a fast punch forming speed of up to 125 mm/s for hot stamping (press hardening) research. The furnace has an inner area of 600 mm x 900 mm and a 3-zone control system is installed to ensure a uniform temperature distribution, which is able to heat blanks to 950°C in less than 3 minutes.
 Six Axis Robot for High Speed/High Temperature Material HandlingThe robot has a 200 kg payload. It includes a 3D vision system and precision lubricant application system.
 Friction Characterization ApparatusTwist compression test for coefficient of friction determination between the sample of interest and tools used. Elevated temperature friction capability up to 500 ºC.
 Material Constitutive Characterization

Uniaxial tensile testing with in situ DIC and/or biaxial extensometers for R-value determination. High temperature capability up to 300ºC using environmental chamber.


 V-Bend ApparatusOptical VDA 238-100 Test Frame custom-designed and built to allow for 3D DIC. Provides uniaxial plane-strain failure strains.
 Dome TesterCapable of Nakazima and Marciniak dome tests.

Large-Scale Crash Testing Facility


Impact Testing InfrastructureFeatures a 170 kJ crash sled facility for testing of structural assemblies, such as crush tubes, bumpers, side impact beams and other sub-assemblies with payload capacity of 1,400 kg. Impact velocity of 50 km/h for 1,000 kg payload and 90 km/h for 100 kg payload. Impact barrier rating of 800 kN. High speed (Photron) cameras with framing rates up to 300,000 fps. Decelerator capability with 100 g deceleration rating.
High Strain Rate Material Characterization InfrastructureTensile Split-Hopkinson BarTensile testing of materials ranging from aerospace grade titanium to automotive grade aluminum. Strain rate regime: 500 to 1500 s-¹, temperature range: up to 300ºC, 300,000 fps high-speed video.
 Hydraulic Intermediate Strain Rate ApparatusUniaxial tension testing at strain rates ranging from 1.0-100 s-¹. Sheet metal shear tests (continuous or interrupted) can also be conducted using this apparatus.
  • Shimadzu HPV-X2 (2)
  • Photron FASTCAM SA-Z (2)
  • Photron FASTCAM SA5 (2)
  • Photron Mini AX100 (2)
  • Photron FASTCAM SA4
High speed video recording at up to 10,000,000 fps.
 Telops FAST-IR 2K cameras (2)Cameras capable of recording at up to 90,000 fps. IR material failure detection at high rates.
  • Alcan International Ltd.
  • ArcelorMittal-Dofasco
  • Cosma International (Magna)
  • Dana Holding Corporation Canada
  • D.A. Stuart Inc.
  • Eagle Precision Technologies
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Motors Company
  • Honda R&D Americas Inc.
  • Materials and Manufacturing Ontario (MMO)
  • Nova Steel Inc.
  • Novelis
  • Pratt & Whitney Canada
  • Research In Motion (RIM)
  • Toyota Technical Center
  • U.S. Steel Canada (Stelco)
  • Rivian
  • General Dynamic Land Systems
  • Department of National Defence
  • Bowman Precision Tooling
  • Cleveland-Cliffs (formerly AK Steel)
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)
  • Arconic
  • Magnesium Elektron
  • Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI)
  • Auto/Steel Partnership
  • Ontario Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (AMC)
  • National Research Council Canada