Clamp System for Mechanical Testing of Soft Tissue

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Trevor Lujan


Characterizing the relationship between material structure and mechanical function is important in engineering applications. Modeling this structure-function relationship in living tissue provides the groundwork to later determine stimuli-structure-function relationships in order to enhance healing by developing effective treatment strategies. However, there are few models that accurately predict the mechanical behavior of soft tissue based on structure. A challenge in developing these models is that mechanical testing is required to validate model accuracy. Many mechanical test systems are designed for more traditional materials and specialized clamp fixtures need to be created for testing soft tissue due to small size and variable geometry of the testing samples.

In this undergraduate research project, a mechanical clamp system was developed to meet the design requirements of testing soft tissue. The clamps apply loads up to 10N in a tension configuration and 7N in a shear configuration. The clamp stiffness is 4000 N/mm in tension and 150 N/mm in shear. Electrical integration between the clamps and the test system provides load data transmission to the controlling computer with a load signal noise under 0.02N. The clamps meet the requirements and currently are used to determine the effect of ligament microstructure on strength.

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