Small Michigan Firm Does Its Part to Reduce Trade Deficit

REL, Inc., is capitalizing on its vertical manufacturing capabilities and advanced materials expertise, by virtue of its enhancement of the Split Hopkinson Pressure Bar and proprietary Sure-Pulse™ software technology, to become the leading global resource in high strain rate material testing. REL has refined the design and manufacture of the Split Hopkinson Pressure Bars and customizes the material testing capabilities of the system, to uniquely meet the specifications of the customer.

This month, Dr. Adam Loukus traveled to Canberra, Australia, to install a Hopkinson Bar capable of compression and tension testing that REL manufactured for the University of New South Wales Defense Force Army Center. In June, REL’s Hopkinson Bars were installed for the Brazilian Army Commission to be used in armor development and ballistics testing, and in Canada at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan, where researchers use the system to test samples for dynamic hardness. Prior to this year, REL has shipped its Hopkinson Bars to such places as India (Central Glass Ceramic Research Institute – Kolkata) and the United Kingdom (University of Sheffield, Advanced Manufacturing Research Center). Currently, REL is manufacturing a system for an Indian Army project, to be used to test rock core samples. Orders for several dozen additional systems are in various stages, for customers from around the globe. Domestically, REL has manufactured a number of Hopkinson Bar systems for various military, industrial and university research clients.

In keeping with their vertical integration capabilities, REL refined and expanded upon the capabilities of the Hopkinson Bar out of necessity. According to REL President Dr. Josh Loukus, “We had the need to conduct high strain rate testing of various metal matrix composite materials we were developing. We couldn’t find a system to do what we needed, at a reasonable price. We decided to manufacture our own Hopkinson Bar. We refined the system, enhanced its capabilities and customized the machine to conduct the types of tests we needed. As we published results and word spread of our Hopkinson Bar, people starting coming to us asking if we could build a system for them.” As development of the system evolved, REL saw the need to streamline the analysis of the data generated from tests; hence, Sure-Pulse™ software was created. It replaces what previously took hours of data processing on high-end computers with a process whereby data is analyzed, and graphs are plotted, on standard lap top computers in mere seconds. “When we installed the system for the Brazilian Army, one of their researchers came to the lab to test a sample. We loaded his sample into the system, ran the test and generated the data and graphs. He was astonished. What we had just done in five minutes, previously took him several days,” said Adam Loukus, REL Vice President. REL’s Hopkinson Bar can take years off the duration of a project. Brady Bekkala, REL technician explains, “While installing a system for a university customer, one of the Ph.D. candidates told me that he spent nearly two years of his doctoral work trying to build a Split Hopkinson Pressure Bar. He said he wished that he could have focused more of his time conducting actual research.”

In addition to building systems for sale, REL also conducts sample testing in its newly renovated, High Strain Rate Bar Lab. REL has incorporated a high-speed camera into testing capabilities at its Calumet, MI, lab. The camera is capable of capturing high strain rate events at speeds of 5,000,000 frames per second. The Split Hopkinson Pressure Bar is used to visually measure strain and observe failure patterns in high strain rate (from 150 to over 5,000 sec-1) impact compression, tension and torsion events. The Split Hopkinson Pressure Bar (aka Kolsky Bar) is used to test a wide variety of materials from ceramics; to body tissue; to Nickel-based superalloys; to polymers, foams, glass & adhesive-bonded joints; to rock and core samples. Capabilities include Johnson-Cook parameterization, soil sheer testing, seismic wave generation, dynamic hardness tests on ceramics for ballistics analysis, and generating material characteristics for automotive crash test simulation, including airbag deployment. REL’s Sure-Pulse™ software analyses compression, tension and torsion waves, generating data for finite element analysis (FEA) and other high strain rate analysis tools.

About REL, Inc:
REL, Inc., established in 2007, has three facilities, totaling over 38,000 square feet of manufacturing, research, development and laboratory space, located in Calumet, MI. REL engages in advanced material research, development and manufacturing (conformable compressed natural gas tanks, lightweight brake rotors and drums, lightweight encapsulated armor, long-lasting diamond concrete cutting blades); in the manufacture of automated material handling/processing lines; in the manufacture of fluorescent penetrant non-destructive testing lines for military and civil aviation clients; and precision machining.

For more information about REL, please contact David Rowe, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Business Development, at davidrowe@relinc.net, or call 906-337-3018, ext. 310