A Guide to Retrofitting Universal Testing Machines

A Universal Testing Machine Retrofit is a system upgrade wherein the functionality and capabilities of an obsolete and/or broken universal testing machine are enhanced by pairing them with replacement components and advanced indicators.

Universal Testing Machines

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A system retrofit is usually performed on but not restricted to tensile testing systems, torsion testing systems, compression testing systems and bend testing systems. Universal testing systems manufactured by Instron®, SATEC®, Tinius Olsen, MTS, Forney, Baldwin and others can all be upgraded by ADMET’s retrofit service.

Universal Testing Machine Retrofit

Image Credit: Admet Inc.

In several cases, users will realize that their materials testing system is no longer able to meet their testing requirements, whether it is due to the lack of capabilities caused by aging or simply because an expensive component has stopped functioning. Most users, unaware of the opportunity to retrofit their current system at a much cheaper cost, will start the search for a totally new testing system.

Retrofits are done on universal testing systems for a range of reasons, spanning from the need for completely automatic closed-loop servo control or PC-based data acquisition to just replacing current dial gauges with digital indicators for more accurate testing results and ease of use.

Types of Universal Testing Machine Retrofits

When retrofitting a universal testing machine, several different upgrades are available based on the preferred capabilities that the customer would like their retrofitted system to possess. Explanations of the different retrofit services provided by ADMET are below.

Data Acquisition Retrofits

Basic Single Channel Indicator Upgrade

Basic Single Channel Indicator Upgrade

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The most standard upgrade that ADMET has to offer substitutes the present dial gauge or digital indicator with a new single channel digital indicator like the Pi Peak Load Indicator, so as to improve testing features and allow for easy data analysis for peak load and stress testing. When employing a universal testing system with dial gauges, data is recorded manually via a technician recording the value reported from the dial gauge.

Not only is it extremely time inefficient to manually record the data for each test process, but this technique also produces a higher likeliness of error compared to data being recorded via a digital indicator.

In an environment where newer standards and testing needs are continually being released, older digital indicators that came with the initial system purchase may not have the features needed to perform the required calculations. In these instances, retrofitting one of ADMET’s advanced digital indicators instead of an older indicator can improve the system’s capabilities to obtain desired new calculations.

Multi-Channel Indicator Upgrade

Multi-Channel Indicator Upgrade

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A more advanced upgrade that ADMET offers involves substituting the current digital indicator or dial gauge with a multi-channel indicator, capable of measuring displacement, force and strain. When customers want to expand their testing capabilities so as to measure strain or stress, ADMET provides multi-channel indicators like the eP2 Digital Indicator. These indicators can generate a stress-strain curve and calculate offset yield, ultimate tensile strength, Young’s modulus and percent elongation according to ASTM E8 Standard Test Method for Tension Testing of Metallic Materials. New and current extensometers and LVDT devices can be used with ADMET’s indicators so as to measure displacement and, ultimately, calculate strain.

PC-Based Data Acquisition Indicator Upgrade

PC-Based Data Acquisition Indicator Upgrade

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An upgrade to MTESTQuattro, ADMET’s most advanced controller, involves setting up a PC-based application program and external interface box, which offers all of the capabilities of the multi-channel indicator, together with many more calculations such as plastic strain ratio (ASTM E517), and K and n values (ASTM E646). This system can perform data analysis on numerous tests including compression, tension, fatigue, friction, creep, flexural, peel, relaxation and shear tests. The base configuration of this retrofit upgrade comprises of load, axial strain, transverse strain, crosshead position and auxiliary input channels.

Fully Automatic Closed Loop Servo Retrofits

Basic Electromechanical Servo Retrofit

So as to upgrade a current fatigue or static based electromechanical testing system, new servomotors, amplifiers and drives can be installed so as to further enhance capabilities of the system to meet the customer’s needs. Based on the customer’s system parameters, ADMET can also potentially tie into existing motors and drives.

Basic Hydraulic Servo Retrofit

ADMET’s most affordable hydraulic servo retrofit option includes keeping the current hydraulic unit active, bypassing the current manual control valves, and adding a servo-manifold into the existing hydraulic unit. This enables users to have full control of their system through a PC-based materials testing system MTESTQuattro or a multi-channel digital controller.

Full Hydraulic Servo Retrofit

ADMET’s comprehensive servo retrofit involves swapping the current hydraulic unit with a new servo hydraulic power unit, which is normally chosen when the user is experiencing problems with their current hydraulic console. The user would then use either one of ADMET’s multi-channel digital controllers or the MTESTQuattro PC-based materials testing system so as to control the machine and gather data.

Benefits of Retrofitting an Existing System


By retrofitting a current system, substantial cost savings can be attained in comparison to buying a new universal testing system. The main reason that retrofitting a current system is so cost effective is because the most expensive and hard-wearing component of a system is its load frame.

By retrofitting a current system with a new indicator or controller, one can maintain their current load frame, eventually expanding their system’s capabilities for minimal investment. By retrofitting a current system, ADMET’s customers are able to continue using their existing system accessories, whereas buying a completely new system usually requires purchasing load cells, extra grips and other accessories.


A retrofit upgrade will result in additional functionality of the user’s system, extra flexibility in the range of test results and analyzes the user can perform, and better accuracy of the materials testing system as a whole. Overall testing times will come down considerably as the user will be able to store test procedures and obtain desired analyzes without having to perform any calculations by hand. This streamlined data capture also allows for easy generation of detailed test reports.

Meet New Standards

Since many of the universal testing systems were designed decades ago, they lack the testing features and data acquisition parameters essential to meet present and future standards. As testing organizations such as ASME, ISO, ASTM, ASSHTO and others continue to revise and update their current standards, ADMET is continuously working to enhance capabilities of its indicators and controllers to guarantee that users can perform these standardized tests without any problems or errors.

ADMET’s GaugeBuster 2 and DFG indicators are frequently used to retrofit concrete testing systems and come with preset ASTM standards such as ASTM C78, C39, C293, C109 and C469. ADMET’s MTESTQuattro and eP2 controllers are delivered preset with numerous ISO, ASTM, AASHTO standards, and have the capability to add extra testing standards. Multiple analyzes can be chosen by the user so as to create custom test procedures as desired.

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Examples of Past Retrofits

Examples of Past Retrofits

Examples of Past Retrofits

Examples of Past Retrofits

Image Credit: Admet Inc.


ADMET’s sales engineers can be contacted for queries about the retrofitting process, or if one wants a quote for a retrofit of an old system. The team has been trained to perform an in-depth diagnosis process to guarantee that they recommend the best possible option for customers to realize their testing goals.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Admet, Inc. - Materials Testing Equipment.

For more information on this source, please visit Admet, Inc. - Materials Testing Equipment.


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