Experimental mechanics is a branch of engineering mechanics used to solve engineering problems employing measurements, and can be defined as the research of the mechanical behavior of an object subjected to a load or excitation by carrying out experiments. It is a link between theoretical and applied mechanics. It is the oldest and most important field in the mechanics of solids, and fluid mechanics, and its significance is continuously growing. The application of experimental mechanics requires the intertwining of different areas, such as general physics, optics, electronics, numerical mathematics and computer science, without which its application is impossible.
In solving advanced engineering problems, great effort is invested, and innovative engineering knowledge and experimental methods of wide practical application is used. In doing so, we take into account that everything is properly prepared and organized so that experimental engineers can carry out experiments more efficiently. If the problem were not approached in such a way, the gained know-how would be ineffective and unusable. In various areas of research and development, where practical problems are solved with the support of experimental mechanics, development engineers collaborate closely and act together with experimental engineers in order that scientific and technical knowledge and experience exchange is quickly and effectively implemented for mutual benefit. This requires that the theoretical and practical knowledge, insights and experiences are systematically unified, for the purpose of intensifying practical acceptance of the efficiency of research.
Besides carrying out the measurements of mechanical quantities, experimental mechanics includes:
- Design of experiments
- Creation of engineering control models and preliminary analysis of the system that is being researched, that is, measured to estimate the measured values
- Development of measurement methods and techniques
- Design, construction and technological development of the measuring systems
- Processing of acquired data
- Mathematical formulation and analysis of the researched system based on measurement results
A test object can be a construction or structure, a mechanical system, phenomenon, problem, sample material...
Measured mechanical quantities, conventionally associated with experimental mechanics, are the following: strains, which can function as the basis for the determination of stresses or loads (forces, torques); accelerations, velocities, displacements, angles, etc. Besides conventional quantities, any appearance relevant for a given object can be measured or recorded by means of photographic or video recording, in order to determine more efficiently the real state by experimental methods, while the knowledge of this real state can later facilitate a more clear description, that is, mathematical formulation of the phenomenon.
Experimental Mechanics is used for:
- Solving engineering problems when numerical procedures can not provide reliable answers
- Verification of analytical and numerical engineering models (Boundary conditions and constitutive parameters verification)
- Determination of the real loads / stress states of an object - forces, displacements, strain / stresses...
- Determination of real dynamic behavior of the system in service conditions – vibrations
- Generation of input data for engineering models
The afore mentioned fields of application show by itself that experimental mechanics as an engineering discipline, can not be avoided in product development, i.e. in problems solving in terms of safety and reliability, and thus in economic terms as well.