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Components of Universal Testing Machines

UTM Glossary: Universal Testing Machine parts & components

Get to grips with the ins and outs of your average Universal Testing Machine, with our handy glossary.  

Key UTM parts and components explained


Additional extras than can be used to customize your UTM to suit your set up. These include everything from safety chambers to environmental chambers for testing at different temperatures.  


Adapters allow different grips and fixtures to be attached to a load cell. They can expand capabilities of the tests a UTM can perform. 


This is the base section of the machine and houses sub-components, like the motors, belts and switches.  


These provide the area for the machine’s cross head to move between, they also provide stiffness and rigidity to the frame. UTMs can have a single or dual column design. 

Cross head 

The part of the Universal Testing Machine that moves up and down during the testing process. It can be powered by an electrical motor or a servo-hydraulic driver.  


Equipment capable of determining useful calculations like the Modulus of Elasticity, Secant Modulus and Poisson’s ratio. They are available in a wide variety of gauge lengths with varying strain measuring ranges, depending on the samples being tested, and should be calibrated per ASTM E83. 


Grips are what hold the samples for testing. There are hundreds of different grip or fixture options available for tension, compression, and bend/flex applications. The type of grip used tends to depend on the amount of force it needs for the sample to break, some examples include wedge grips, pneumatic grips, or vice grips. 

Load cell 

The load cell attaches to the cross head and provides a real-time reading of force in both tension and compression during the testing process. It should be calibrated per ASTM E4 with an accuracy +/- 1% of the indicated value required. 

Mechanical stop switches 

If a cross head touches the limit switch, the motor is disengaged. This prevents damage to grips, fixtures, and load cells. 

Operational controls 

Allows operator to manually control certain features of the UTM outside of the software. This exists for ease of use and safety purposes, allowing access to an emergency stop switch, for example.   

Test frame 

The UTM frame, which allows a space for the cross head to move throughout the testing process and may encapsulate a single or dual column.  

UTM overview from United

United Testing Systems – a product line of Industrial Physics – has put together a short video with a handy overview of UTMs. If you’re looking for extra information or a visual idea of how some of the components or parts look in action, have a watch.  

Choosing and customizing a UTM with Industrial Physics

We understand that every lab and set up is different, that’s why we’re fully trained to help you find the best solution for your particular product or line. Many aspects of a UTM can be customized and we can help you determine just what’s needed – from grip type to driver style. If you’re ready to hear more, get in touch today. 


What do Universal Testing Machines do?

Universal Testing Machines, also known as UTMs, are machines capable of measuring and analyzing the physical and mechanical properties of sample materials by testing their performance when subjected to a variety of tensile or compressive forces. 

What is the definition of a Universal Testing Machine?

A UTM is a machine that is able to test the performance of a variety of samples when they are subjected to different tensile and compressive forces. The machines are capable of giving an accurate recording of the physical and mechanical properties of the materials being tested.   They come in a wide range of sizes and can be configured to suit a variety of different applications, thanks to flexibility when it comes to things like fixtures, frames, grips and even software capabilities.  

How are Universal Testing Machines used?

UTMs are used as part of the QA or research and design phase of a wide range of products and applications. Universal Testing Machines can return results that accurately measure the properties of the material tested, giving manufacturers or designers the data, they need to assess how suitable the sample is for the intended application.  

What tests can be performed using a Universal Testing Machines?

There are a wide variety of tests UTMs are capable of carrying out – the clue is in the name! Some of the most common Universal testing Machine tests are: 

  • Pull-out tests 
  • Bending tests 
  • Hysteresis tests 
  • Tensile tests 
  • Compression tests 
  • Adhesion tests

What kind of materials can UTMs test?

Universal Testing Machines are capable of testing the properties of a wide range of materials, including foam, rubber, plastics, and polymers, wood, metals and textiles.  

Do UTMs test to industry standards?

UTMs are designed to help users test a wide range of materials or product components to meet a variety of industry standards. They are also sometimes used to test materials that do not have a standardized testing method.  

Are there different types of Universal Testing Machines?

Yes, there are several different types of UTMs. There are a few different types of machines, including electromechanical (Electric Motor) driven systems and servo-hydraulic driven systems. Not sure which suits your needs? Check out our guide to types of UTMs  If you’re struggling to make sense of the names or components of your machine, hopefully after reading our UTM glossary you gained more knowledge.