Bamboo is used these days for everything from flooring to biofuel and even housing. But did you know that bamboo is as strong as steel?
The engineering precinct at the Southern Cross Lismore campus boasts world-class facilities – one of these is the Engineering Futures Laboratory. This laboratory houses two universal test machines which compare the mechanical properties of different materials. Bamboo samples tested here were found to be as strong as steel! Bamboo has a high tensile strength that rivals and supersedes many other building materials. ‘Engineered’ bamboo is used in construction (as panels, floor boards or in any number of products to substitute wood, steel or even concrete).
Fun fact: Bamboo was a hero feature material in the 2018 INNOVATE::SITUATE Southern Cross University Design prize. Woven was the winner of the industry professional category, a clasping hands-like shade structure made of bamboo by Lismore artist Katie Stewart and Mercurio Alvarado Mendez in collaboration with Sydney-based international bamboo collective Cave Urban. Lismore Light Gardens, a permaculture food garden growing in a pallet pavilion, was designed by Team BBR, a collaboration of three Southern Cross University students drawn from the engineering and creative arts disciplines. It won the student category.
Materials testing is not the only thing we do in the Engineering Futures lab. A 3D printer is used to make mechanical parts and conceptual models and there is a suite of LEGO Mindstorms robots. These are used in an undergraduate teaching module, as well as in the Robocup Junior event, which takes place several times a year, and invites local school pupils to come and build robots.