Lora DiCarlo

The PDL worked with Lora DiCarlo to help them get their product to market. Lora DiCarlo is a disruptive new brand known for engineering pleasure tech products that will revolutionize female sexual health. 

Press about the project 



Blount Chain Shot Project

We worked with with Blount International—a company that manufactures saw chains and other equipment for the forestry, agriculture, and construction industries—to help make timber harvesters safer.

Timber harvesters have an extendable boom fitted with a large chainsaw and clamp. From the cab of the harvester, an operator controls the boom to grab a tree at its base and cut it off just three or four inches from the ground.  

Occasionally, the saw can run into a rock or piece of equipment, breaking the chain. This problem is called a “chain-shot” event because when this happens, the broken chain can whip out with enough force that a secondary break may occur, potentially sending a short section of chain through the air at speeds exceeding 300 meters per second if not blocked by protective guarding.  


PDL partnered with Blount to design and build an apparatus to simulate a chain break. What they made is a remotely-operated chainsaw inside a shipping container along with various instruments and a high-speed camera. The chain is propelled around a bar until it reaches the desired speed, and then a metal pin is driven into it causing it stop suddenly and break, sending a section of chain through the air where it embeds into the thick plastic walls of the container. The instrument and camera capture data that can then be analyzed. The finished test fixture was shipped to Blount in late 2017 and now resides in their Portland facility.

In Pipe Energy Project

The PDL worked with an Oregon startup company, InPipe Energy, to test their new technology. InPipe Energy is developing a system to generate carbon-free electricity from a previously untapped water source: the pipes under our streets. 

Their system takes advantage of the difference in pressure between the major arteries of water distribution networks and the smaller branches that feed homes and businesses. InPipe received financial support from Oregon BEST, which supports clean technology research. John Parmigiani and Nick Aerne, engineering graduate student, worked with InPipe Energy to design and construct a prototype system at the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Laboratory on the OSU campus. They installed hydropower turbines in a loop parallel to a normal distribution line. The testing proves that InPipe Energy’s hydropower system is safe, reliable, efficient (turbines achieved efficiencies between 60 and 80 percent)  and can be a valuable tool to help water agencies reduce their operating costs and carbon footprint. Parmigiani and his students are continuing to look at improvements in the technology. Meanwhile, InPipe Energy is in discussions with water agencies and industrial companies on the next phase of commercialization.


InPipe Energy’s prototype turbine undergoes testing at OSU’s Hinsdale Wave Lab. (Photo: Carolyn Stanley)


Gregg Semler, InPipe Energy CEO

Carbon Fiber Research 

We have been conducting research in the mechanics of carbon fiber laminate composites since 2008.  The work is sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, deals with both finite element modeling and experimentation of structural carbon fiber laminates. The work has included modeling and experimental studies of out-of-plane bending of notched panels, mode III shear of notched panels, and a focused study of matrix.



The images below show the delamination of a carbon fiber laminate under out-of-plane bending loading as observed during experiments (left) and as modeled using finite elements (right)

        Delamination in experiments          Delamination in simulation

More recent work deals with developing a material model for damage initiation and propagation of the matrix material in carbon fiber laminates when under compressive loading. Shown below are images of the specimen used in the experiments (left), the experimental setup (middle), and the resulting notch-tip shear crack (right).

Matrix Compression Specimen          Matrix Compression Experimental Setup           Notch tip shear crack

Chainsaw Research 

The Prototype Development Lab conducts on-going research on saw chain cutting mechanics. This research will help in more efficient design of chainsaws. We are investigating the effects of varying key parameters such as cutting velocity, depth-of-cut, workpiece moisture content, and workpiece density with a custom-built saw-chain testing apparatus.  A comparison study was conducted on a custom test apparatus using four different saw chains, all with the same cutter geometry but different low-kickback chain features. Kickback is the leading cause of the most severe and traumatic chainsaw related injuries. 

A substantial difference in cutting forces was found between differing designs of bumper drive link elements in both nose-clear down bucking and boring, highlighting the importance of proper bumper link geometry. Using these results and considering that the boring mode of operation is for experienced users, the casual chainsaw operator should always prioritize safety by using a low-kickback saw chain while professional users should select the chain that best suits their current cutting needs.

Saw chain test machine