In testing the mechanical behavior of rubbers, the incompressibility assumption is used to predict the deformed cross section under loading and thereby to calculate the true stress. There are, however, cases where rubbers can undergo considerable volumetric deformation in large strain experiments. Microstructural investigation through a scanning electron microscope was carried out on a void-filled natural rubber specimen to clarify the effect of voids on the compressibility feature. The microstructure of the natural rubber was observed qualitatively and quantitatively in uniaxial tension and compared to the microstructure in the underformed condition. The existence of the compressibility feature in the void-filled rubber was confirmed from a microstructural viewpoint. The findings indicate the necessity of accurate measurement of the deformed cross section in mechanical tests to obtain the true stress. To this end, an experimental setup capable of measuring the deformed cross section of the rubber specimens subjected to large uniaxial compression is proposed. To do this, the accuracy of laser beams is used for measurement of distance and a mechanical jig is developed to synchronize the movement of the laser transducer with the vertical crosshead of the load cell of a computer-controlled servohydraulic testing machine. Thus the constraints associated with conventional strain gages in measuring large strains are overcome. Finally, two natural rubber specimens and one high damping rubber specimen were tested in the proposed setup to display the adequacy of the developed device in measuring lateral deformation of rubber-like highly deformable solids in large strain uniaxial testing.
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