A wide variety of scientific and engineering activities require the use of testing machines in order to acquire data regarding the response of materials subjected to mechanical loads. This is particularly applicable to the domain of Additive Manufacturing (AM), where mechanical qualification is essential. Such machinery should be capable of applying loads at required levels and exhibit high mechanical stiffness. Accurate force, displacement, and strain measurements are also required. As a consequence, such testing machines are typically very costly. In the present paper we introduce the Open Uniaxial Test Machine (OpenUTM) project, aimed at providing a low-cost (less than $2500.00) material testing hardware/software framework. This paper will focus on the engineering design and hardware aspects of the OpenUTM project, with particular attention paid to the use of an electrohydraulic actuator (EHA) to provide test loads. A full bill of materials and drawings package is provided, in order to enable the use of the OpenUTM framework by research groups with minimal machine tooling. We introduce several case studies demonstrating the successful use of the OpenUTM frame in AM research efforts, including the testing and characterization of AM polymers and ceramics. We conclude with discussion of the software aspects of the OpenUTM framework, which will be elaborated upon in a follow-up paper (part two). We also present a series of potential avenues towards the improvement of the OpenUTM frame in future hardware iterations.

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