#SpringBreakIt – Pushing Super Materials to the Limit this Spring Break

I lead GE’s Materials Processing and Testing team here at Global Research. We partner with scientists and engineers from across GRC and our GE businesses to understand and predict how next-generation materials will behave in the challenging environments which they must perform. Together, we are developing some of the most sophisticated and cutting-edge material systems for GE, including composites, ceramics, and high-performance superalloys for numerous GE industrial products.

As you’ll see in the videos below, we put our materials through some of the most demanding tests to ensure they deliver performance under extreme temperatures, pressures, and environmental conditions. These tests offer our researchers a glimpse into how GE’s materials will perform in applications such as jet engines and gas turbines. And while we normally don’t test rubber duckies, rubber band balls, and softballs, we wanted to illustrate for you how some common household objects react to the tests we put our materials through every day here in the lab. If you’d like to see some videos of everyday objects going through the tests we put our materials through, be sure to tweet using #SpringBreakIt for a neat surprise and visit GE #SpringBreakIt on Tumblr to see more.



In our Mechanical Testing Lab, for example, we test material samples in a variety of ways and extract crucial mechanical property information from each to characterize the material behavior. In the following video, we are heating a metal sample beyond 1700°F and conducting a lab-scale forging process. This exercise allows GE researchers to understand both the way in which the material behaves under these processing conditions, as well as how the material might perform in an industrial application, such as a jet engine or a gas turbine.

To test the durability and strength of carbon reinforced polymer matrix composites used in jet engines, we often subject small, thin samples of these materials to a “drop weight” or dynatop test. In this test, a heavy weight is dropped from various heights to see how well GE composites respond to the impact.

Environmental conditions can destroy lesser materials, so we simulate these conditions in the lab to understand how our parts will react and hold up to real-world challenges. One such example is high-speed sand erosion testing where we use a specially designed grit blaster to impinge sand directly at a material coupon to simulate how such an environment would affect the material’s performance.

Do you have a question about materials? How they’re made? How they play a crucial role in making products stronger, lighter and more cost effective? Our materials scientists are here and ready to answer your questions. Simply submit your question to our Stump the Scientist and we’ll select the best questions to answer through a short video!



  1. Sandy. John

    This is really neat, Joe! Makes me want to be right in the lab to see these experiments in person. This is well put together. Enough info for the layman to understand what the goal is and realize we are so fortunate to have smart people doing this for us.

  2. eileen oconnell

    very cool, interesting…awesome videos.