Research up close

The winners of the Mini Olympics had the opportunity on 14 July to look over the shoulders of the employees who work in the mechatronics research center.

The employees positioned themselves at three different stations to show the young people how basic physical principles can be applied in complicated measurement devices. They also learned how measurements are carried out and where such measurements are necessary in production operations. The winners also had the chance to gets hands-on experience measuring sound waves inside steel.

The voestalpine researchers in Linz were excited to share their enthusiasm with the youngsters, and the young people were impressed by the work that takes place in the laboratory.


The stations in detail:

Acoustic emissions and levitation
This is the place where the speed of sound waves is measured in steel. To levitate is to float in the air, defying gravity. It also means to cause something to do that. For example, the researchers made a steel sheet float on top of ultrasonic waves.

SG lab  SG = strain gauge
The use of strain gauges was demonstrated to show how the tiniest strains can correspondingly intensify a signal. For example, a measurable amount of strain can be measured by pressing your thumb onto a steel cylinder or twisting a piece of steel with your hands. Such strains would not be measurable without the finely tuned signal processing of strain gauges.  

The playful application of a technology that was the precursor to the Wii console (also developed by mechatronics specialists) was also tested.

The use of thermal imaging cameras was demonstrated here, showing how they can be used in temperature measurements in industrial applications. Reasons why there are deviations between different temperature measurement methods were also discussed. Such deviations must be statistically adjusted.