Unit for Construction Materials
Welcome to Stellenbosch University



The Unit of Construction Materials (UCM) is located in the Structural Division of the Civil Engineering Department of Stellenbosch University and has at its disposal 1500 m² of laboratory space. This includes a large structural laboratory which is serviced by a 10 ton overhead traveling crane. This laboratory was specifically designed with a basement beneath a strong ground floor to allow for the connection of rigid experimental setups and loading frames directly to the floor using a combination of threaded rods through holes spread across the entire floor. This makes the laboratory very versatile and ideal for the testing of nearly any medium to large scale samples or structural elements.

Adjacent to the structural laboratory is a concrete laboratory, which consists of a sample preparation and mixing area as well as a larger open area. The sample preparation area is also used for the storage of the constituent materials needed for making concrete in various silos and bins. The mixing area has several mixers capable of mixing any type of concrete. The larger open area is serviced by a 5 ton overhead traveling crane and is used for a variety of aspects. Most notable is the curing of concrete samples in the curing tanks situated near the middle of this area. Both the structural and the concrete laboratories have a climate controlled room suitable for the short and/or long term testing of samples that require constant environmental conditions in terms of temperature and relative humidity.


In addition to the significant laboratory space there are also numerous testing equipment and machines available to the UCM. Most noteworthy are two universal material testing machines, as well as several servo controlled hydraulic actuators with capacities ranging between 50 kN and 500 kN. The universal testing machines include a 250 kN machine situated in one of the climate controlled rooms and a 2000 kN machine situated in the structural laboratory. The servo controlled hydraulic actuators provide great versatility, since these actuators can be fixed to any loading frames to create simple uni-axial to complex multi-axial loading configurations. Other noteworthy equipment includes: a 2000 kN compression machine ideal for testing columns; a 2000 kN concrete cube crushing machine; a shaking table used to simulate earthquakes; multiple tensile, compression and flexural creep loading frames; a climate chamber capable of creating stable extreme environmental conditions with high wind speeds and temperatures as well as low relative humidity's; numerous displacement and load measuring transducers including a non-contact 3D deformation measuring system; all the apparatus required to determine the properties of the constituent materials of concrete as well as the fresh and hardened properties of concrete.

The UCM has the capability of conducting a wide range of standard and non-standard laboratory tests. This includes the determination of the material and mechanical properties of most construction materials to sophisticated testing of nearly any structural element. This makes the laboratory of the UCM one of the foremost research orientated laboratories not only in South Africa, but also internationally.

For enquiries about our consulting or testing services please contact Dr Riaan Combrinck.