Sandia National Laboratories
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Sandia National Laboratories' Mechanical Shock Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, provides simulation of impact environments and other dynamic structural loading.
Two horizontal actuators and two commercial, bungee-accelerated, vertical shock machines are available. Traditional tests of weapon components and assemblies at this facility involve the simulation of mechanical shock environments produced by transportation, flight, impact, explosive, and other dynamic events.
Mechanical shock is characterized by a transient acceleration and is commonly simulated with a controlled impact that produces an acceleration pulse. This pulse is related to the actual shock environment by analytical tools such as a shock response spectrum.
In addition to traditional shock pulse testing, the facility is frequently used to produce a controlled dynamic crush of weapon nose structures, aluminum honeycomb, and other components to evaluate functionality or to validate analytical models.
The facility has been used to produce dynamic tensile loading on chain, wire rope, and nylon or Kevlar webbing. Pyroshock environments on relatively large components can be simulated using techniques developed at Sandia. Shock tests may be conducted under extreme thermal environments as well.



The facility has exceptional instrumentation capabilities, using computer-controlled digital data acquisition equipment to acquire acceleration, strain, force, and other data. This combination of ingenuity, experience, and equipment distinguishes this testing facility from others. The capabilities of this facility are often adapted to meet unique dynamic test requirements.

control room


18-inch Horizontal Actuator

The 18-inch horizontal actuator is a pneumatically actuated, high-speed piston that is used to propel sleds or test items along a horizontal 95-foot-long track. The 18 inches refers to the internal diameter of the piston cylinder.

This actuator is capable of producing up to 1 million pounds of thrust and can propel sleds weighing up to 1,000 pounds to speeds of up to 250 feet/second. Heavier items can be used at lower speeds. Traditional shock pulse tests are conducted using a two-sled impact, with the test item on an initially stationary sled.

The pulse amplitude and duration are controlled with the impact speed and hard felt pads (or other materials) placed between the sleds on the impact surfaces.  Acceleration pulse amplitudes up to 30,000 g’s can be produced.  The typical pulse duration is between 0.5 and 10 milliseconds, although a longer duration is possible.  The 18-inch actuator is capable of testing large items, with the 24-inch distance between the track rails being the primary size constraint.

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12-inch Horizontal Actuator

The 12-inch horizontal actuator is a smaller-scale version of the 18-inch actuator.  It is capable of producing up to 500,000 pounds of thrust and can propel a 200-pound sled to speeds of up to 320 feet/second along its 70-foot track.  The distance between the rails is 11 inches.  The 12-inch actuator provides relatively quick turnaround between tests and is best suited for component testing. 
            The Mechanical Shock Facility is close to Sandia’s other testing sites, which provides a wide range of test, measurement, and analysis capabilities, all within the local laboratory complex.  For shipping and travel purposes, the site is conveniently located near Albuquerque International Airport and two interstate highways.  Sandia can perform the complete test from theoretical model development to execution to data analysis.

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Adam M. Slavin
(505) 844-8669

Michael F. Hessheimer
(505) 844-6229