Laboratories and facilities

Mechanical Engineering has an extensive range of laboratories, facilities and work rooms for teaching, research and consultancy work. The custom-built laboratories now under construction as part of UC's capital works programme will provide high-spec accommodation for our world-class equipment from late 2017.

Find out more about UC's building plans and construction timetable for Mechanical Engineering.

External users

Some of our equipment and facilities can be booked by users outside UC. Contact the appropriate technician for each facility to discuss making a booking.

Departmental laboratories

Click on the links below to find out more about the laboratories and equipment available for use.

Our laboratory facilities are equipped to perform a range of testing and analytical functions including: 

  1. Hearing protection test facilities (fixtures and facility compliant with AS/NZS 1270)
  2. Ceiling flanking noise facility compliant with ASTM E1414
  3. Tyre-road noise measuring system
  4. Traffic noise barrier attenuation measurement system
  5. Low noise wind tunnel for aero acoustic measurements
  6. Facility for assessing human response to noise
  7. Duct noise test facility
  8. Sound intensity systems
  9. Environmental noise measurement and analysis facilities
  10. Fan noise test facility compliant with the relevant BS EN standard

Full details

See the attached PDF for full specification and functionality details.

Need more information?

For more information about these facilities contact:

The Applied Mechanics Laboratory is used for undergraduate teaching and student project work as well as postgraduate research, and is equipped to perform diverse tasks. These range from mechanical balancing, to measurement and analysis of vibrations, to the mechanical design and development of complex mechanisms.

Our extensive electronic instrumentation permit investigation into numerical control machining, robotics and automation, and provide the necessary interface to modern computer control and computing facilities.

For more information contact:

This laboratory is run in conjunction with the applied mechanics laboratory so that the anti-vibration tables can be used for laser measurements of robot parameters. The equipment includes a small 5-axis serial teaching robot and controller, and several research robots. The main focus of the laboratory is research into parallel robots and lightweight flexible robots.

The parallel research machines comprise two 6-axis Stewart platforms, a 3-axis spherical co-ordinate robot, and a 3-axis Cartesian co-ordinate Delta robot. The last two machines stand several metres high and weigh up to 300kg. The electric drivers range from small DC, or step motors, up to 2kw step motors. Research into brushless DC motors and hydraulic actuators is also carried out.

Two planar robots with three rotational joints each and flexible links float on a glass-topped table using air bearings. The joints are actuated with brushed DC motors and endpoint measurements are obtained using a 2D CCD camera. This facility is used to study control of lightweight robots and co-operating robots with structural flexibility.

A separate facility consists of rotational and translational mechanical apparatuses which are used for undergraduate teaching in classical and modern control theory. Four sets of each are present with interchangeable masses/inertias and springs. Each apparatus is interfaced to a PC with a sophisticated user interface which permits a great variety of control systems to be implemented.

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For more information about this facility contact:

The UCEM is the most comprehensive electron microscopy laboratory in New Zealand, with four operational electron microscopes (two scanning and two transmission). A range of short courses are available to train users within UC. External visitors are also welcome to use these facilities with training or with the assistance of our technical staff.

Internal and external users can book a session on the electron microscope after receiving training or with the assistance of our technical staff.

Book a session (authorised users only)

Laboratory equipment

JEOL JSM IT-300 variable pressure scanning electron microscope

Electron microscope_DPC_block
  • Oxford Aztec SDD energy dispersive x-ray analysis system
  • Aztec/HKL Electron Backscattered Detector (EBSD) system
  • Aztec Large area mapping and Feature software
  • Forescatter and backscatter electron detectors

Philips CM200 high resolution analytical transmission electron microscope

  • Single and double tilt holders
  • Oxford INCA energy dispersive x-ray analysis system
  • Gatan digital camera

JEOL JSM 7000F field emission, high resolution scanning electron microscope

  • JEOL energy dispersive x-ray analysis system
  • Backscatter electron detector
  • Infrared chamber camera
  • Gatan Cathodoluminescence detector

Philips CM120  transmission electron microscope (available from late 2017)

  • Single and double tilt holders

Support equipment

  • Gatan Pips Precision ion Polishing System
  • Gatan Model 691 dimple grinder
  • Fischione twin jet electro polishing unit
  • Emitech K975X Coater (gold sputter and carbon evaporative coating)
  • Scanner for TEM negatives
  • Darkroom facilities


Available equipment includes:

  • Aeronautical closed-circuit wind tunnel - 1.25m x 0.91m with a 2.5m long working section, max. air speed 55m/s (200kph).
  • Atmospheric boundary-layer wind tunnel - 1.23m x 1.26m with a 13.1m long working section, max. air speed 26m/s (94kph) - with low noise working section.
  • Six- and three- axis force balances
  • Various pressure measurement systems
  • Dantec miniCTA hotwire anemometry system with associated software (single and 3-axis probes)
  • Smoke flow visualisation equipment.
  • Various air-flow anemometers and manometers.
  • StereoPIV measurement equipment with a 120mJ double pulse Nd:YAG laser, 2x TSI 4MP cameras, 2x Dantec 2MP cameras.
  • Photron SA5 high speed camera.
  • UAV rotor thrust rig.

Need more information?

For more information about any of the equipment we provide contact:

Electron Microscopy

  • JEOL 7000F Field Emission Scanning electron microscope with Gatan cathodoluminescence detector and JEOL JED-2300 Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis system
  • JEOL JSM IT-300 variable pressure scanning electron microscope with Oxford AZtecHKL EBSD system and Oxford Aztec SDD energy dispersive x-ray analysis system
  • Philips CM200 high resolution analytical transmission electron microscope with Oxford Inca energy dispersive x-ray analysis system, Gatan CCD camera and Gatan double-tilt holder
  • Philips CM120 Transmission Electron Microscope with Gatan CCD camera and Gatan double-tilt holder

Optical Microscopy

  • Leica DM-IRM inverted metallurgical research microscope with digital image capture systems
  • Olympus reflected light optical microscopes with image capture systems
  • Olympus stereo optical microscope

Materials preparation

  • Gatan Precision ion polishing system (PIPS)
  • Fischione dual jet electropolisher
  • Diamond saws for composite and metallic sample preparation
  • Buehler Automated mounting press
  • Buehler and Leco Automated polishing systems
  • Carbon coaters
  • Gold sputter coaters

Materials processing and treatment

  • 10 kW Vacuum/Ar atmosphere induction furnace for casting high purity aluminum and magnesium alloys
  • 40 kW induction furnace for steel production
  • Gas-fired furnace for Al melting
  • Various radiant furnaces from 200-2000°C for heat treatment and sintering
  • Oil and salt quench baths
  • Laboratory cold and hot rolling mill
  • Pulsed Chemical Vapour Deposition Unit for thin films
  • Gibitre Instruments hot press for polymer and composites manufacture with vacuum frame
  • Set-up for wet lay-up and vacuum bag processing of composite laminates
  • Twin screw extruder for polymer processing/compounding (owned by CAPE)

Mechanical testing

  • MTS Criterion Model C43.104, Tensile/compression load frame (100 N, 500 N and 10 kN load cells, non-contact laser strain measurement, bio-chamber for fluid immersion testing, temperature chamber (< 250°C), testing of soft matter, polymers and fibres)
  • MTS858, Tensile/compression load frame (2.5 kN and 10 kN load cells, pneumatic pressure controlled grips, testing of foams, polymers and composites)
  • MTS810, Tensile/compression load frame (25 kN and 100 kN load cells, extensometers (8, 12, 25, 50 mm), testing of high strength metals and composites)
  • Satec heavy duty tensile-compression testing rig with 1 MN load cell
  • Fatigue testing (bench of 6 reverse bending rigs, hot Wohler type rig)
  • Assorted hardness/microhardness testing machines (metals, polymers)
  • Charpy Impact Tester for metals and advanced composites
  • Thermomechanical testing
  • TA Instruments, Dynamic Mechanical Analyzer (DMA) Q800 with humidity controller for viscoelasticity (damping) measurements of polymers and composites
  • Perkin Elmer Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC) DSC8500 with robotic autosampler (automatic loading/unloading of up to 43 samples), heating rates up to 300°C/min
  • TA Instruments, Thermogravametric Analyser (TGA)(CHEM Dept)

Environmental testing

  • BioLogic VSP potentiostat system (5-channel chassis, 3 channels/modules available), EC-Lab software, EIS analyser, 1 flat cell, Pt counter electrode, saturated calomel reference electrode, CO2 incubator for pH-controlled corrosion testing in simulated body fluids/proteins, etc.
  • Microprobe electrochemical analysis system (custom-made) for microstructure-level corrosion measurements
  • Hydrogen evolution measurement set-up (custom-made) for corrosion of Mg alloys
  • Microscal light fastness tester

Need more information?

For more information about any of these facilities contact:

Available equipment includes:

  • Compact electrode boiler operating at up to 1.7 MPa as a steam source for a throttling calorimeter used to determine the dryness fraction of steam.
  • Two self-contained refrigeration/heat pump experimental test facilities
  • Two self-contained air motor experimental test facilities
  • Apparatus to investigate forced convective heat transfer for air flow through a heated tube
  • Capstone Micro Turbine 30kW Diesel generator set with full monitoring software. Connected with an Exhaust Heat Exchanger for experimental purposes.
  • Whispergen Micro CHP, 1kW Electrical and 6kW Hot Water with performance instrumentation.

Need more information?

For further details about these resources contact:

3D Printers

Stratasys Connex Objet 350 Polyjet printer. Capable of printing multiple materials at one time including elastomer, ABS like, medical and transparent. Build volume 350 x 350 x 200mm.

Stratasys Elite ABS FDM printer. Dissolvable support material. Build volume 203 x 203 x 300 mm.

5 x TierTime UP Box FDM printers. Capable of printing multiple materials including ABS, PLA, Nylon and Graphene impregnated. Build volume 255 x 255 x 200mm.

4 x TierTime Up Mini 2 FDM printers. Capable of printing multiple materials including ABS, PLA, Nylon and Graphene impregnated. Build volume 120 x 120x 120mm.

3D Scanners

Artec Eva hand held scanner. Moderate detail. Subject dimensions from the size of a football to a SUV

Artec Spider hand held scanner. Fine detail. Subject dimensions from the size of a coin to a human bust.

3D Systems Sense hand held scanner. Coarse detail. Subject dimensions from the size of a cup to a SUV

Scan to CAD software

Geomagics Design X. Used for converting scanner STL files to CAD models

Laser Cutter

MARS half sheet non-metal. Cuts wood, plastics, paper, rubber etc.

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Workshop facilities

For more information get in touch with

our Technical Staff