Waterloo Forming and Impact Mechanics 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 Impact Mechanics Laboratory 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, Electromagnetic forming and joining of light metals, 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)

Sectors of application
  • Aerospace and satellites
  • Automotive
  • Clean technology
  • Defence and security industries
  • Manufacturing and processing
  • Mining, minerals and metals
  • Transportation

Specialized lab



Metal Forming Infrastructure


Large-scale 900 Ton Forming Press

Features 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 Press

Features 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.


Medium-scale 75-Ton Warm Forming Press

Triple acting servo-hydraulic press for formability characterization, including warm forming limit characterization with in situ stereo DIC-based strain measurement, non-isothermal forming, deep-drawing and stretch-flanging.


Electromagnetic Forming and Joining Apparatus

Magnetic pulse generator that is capable of storing up to 20 kJ of energy, with a maximum charging voltage of 9,000 V. A hydraulic press is used to mount the experimental coil and dies.



Friction Characterization Apparatus

Twist compression test for coefficient of friction determination between the sample of interest and tools used.


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.


Impact Testing Infrastructure


Large-Scale Crash Testing Facility

Features 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.


14.5 mm gas gun apparatus

For ballistic impact testing of protective structures. Typical impact velocity of 500 m/s for 14 mm cylindrical projectiles with high speed video up to 300,000 fps.


High Strain Rate Material Characterization Infrastructure


Tensile Split-Hopkinson Bar

Tensile 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.



Compressive Split-Hopkinson Bar

Compression (and punching shear) testing at strain rates in the regime: 500 to 3000 s-¹, temperatures up to 300ºC, 300,000 fps high-speed video.


Hydraulic Intermediate Strain Rate Apparatus

Uniaxial 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.



Instrumented Falling Weight Impact Apparatus (Drop Tower)

Impact testing apparatus.


  • 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)