Did you know that Simpson Strong-Tie has a research and development lab in our McKinney, Texas, branch? In the following article, Francisco, the McKinney branch lab manager, talks about the history of this lab and what we do there.
History of the McKinney Lab
Jeremy Gilstrap and Tim Bell founded the lab in McKinney in 2003. At the time, the McKinney R&D test lab was the smallest of the four testing labs run by Simpson Strong-Tie. After obtaining accreditation in 2011, the lab expanded its testing capabilities, and by 2013 the lab had doubled the number of tests it ran and even began taking some of the work load from our lab in Pleasanton, CA. With our increased capacity, our small team also began receiving increased recognition for our hard work and productivity from top management and engineers across the company.
In 2016, the lab moved to our new facility, to become the third largest in the company. At the same time, we were able to increase testing capacity, putting us second in the company for most tests conducted annually, at an average of 635 test setups per year, and we became the third of our official test labs to be IAS accredited.
(IAS accredited means that the McKinney Lab has met the requirements of AC89, IAS Accreditation Criteria for Testing Laboratories, and has demonstrated compliance with ISO/IEC Standard 17025:2017, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.)
Learn All About Our Lab
The McKinney lab performs testing using a heavy-duty vertical frame that has a 100,000 lb. (100 k) capacity with an MTS hydraulic actuator that has a 6” stroke. This gives us the ability to test connectors and fasteners used in wood, concrete, masonry, and both light-gauge and structural steel. Additionally, for the connectors that attach to concrete or on to grout-filled concrete masonry units, we conduct compression tests of GFCMU prisms and concrete cylinders, with a 400,000 lb. (400 k) Humboldt compression testing machine (listed below).
Type of Equipment in the Laboratory
Below is a list of the following machines and equipment we have in the lab:
- 100 k Instron testing machine (tension and compression) with Blue Hill Software
- 400,000 lb.-capacity Humboldt concrete/CMU compression machine
- Environmental conditioning chamber, which allows us to condition all wood components to the prescribed state per standards that the lab is accredited for
- Various woodworking tools (e.g., table saw; compound miter saws; band saw; radial arm saw; pneumatic, battery-powered and electrical equipment necessary to fabricate test specimens or assemblies)
- Metal milling equipment for cutting, shaping, or drilling necessary test setup apparatus or jigs
- Small hydraulic truss plate press (Eagle press) that helps us compress the truss plates with the wood members for truss manufacturing
- Other various measuring equipment items (e.g., tape measures, calipers, micrometer, scales, thermometers)
The lab has participated in the testing of different types of fasteners and other parts, the company has used the testing data in our product catalogs. Simpson Strong-Tie products whose performance we have tested in the McKinney lab which includes the SDWF Screw, SDWS Screws, SDWC Screw the deflector screw, RTUD (ratcheting take-up device) for our continuous rod tiedown systems, straps and ties such as the H1, the HETA, and some of our CLT or mass timber products, and more.
You can learn more about this lab from R&D Lab Manager Francisco as he discusses his career journey with Simpson Strong-Tie and what it’s like to work in one of our labs.