Our History

Instron® started from very small beginnings…

Instron was established in 1946 in Canton, near Boston, Massachusetts. Its founders, Harold Hindman and George Burr, were working together at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a joint project investigating suitable substitutes for silk that could be used in the manufacture of parachutes. After discovering there was no testing machine available accurate enough to meet their requirements, Mr. Hindman and Mr. Burr used their knowledge of electronics and mechanical engineering to design a materials testing instrument based on the latest electronics and servo-control systems. The resulting prototype was so successful that Mr. Hindman and Mr. Burr formed Instron Corporation.

 Instron founders Harold Hindman and George Burr

The name "INSTRON” is a contraction of the words “instrument” and “electronics”, and it represents a unique partnership of these men as innovators in the materials testing machine field.

The original Instron testing machine incorporated a unique cross-head drive system, which was similar to the radar antenna positioning drive on naval warships. The transducer for the load weighing system utilized the strain gauge, which was a brand new technology developed at MIT.


Over the years, Instron has made several significant acquisitions, greatly expanding our range of materials testing systems and giving us more than 500 years of collective experience in the industry.

Severn Furnace Limited

Severn Furnace Limited (SFL) was formed in 1989 when Instron acquired the furnace product business from Severn Science Limited. SFL built its reputation in the design and manufacture of advanced high temperature furnaces and thermal equipment. Today we continue to manufacture a full range of environmental chambers, furnaces, and accessories for both high and low temperature applications.

Wilson Hardness-Reicherter, Wolpert, Wilson

Wilson Hardness introduced the first Rockwell® tester to the market over 80 years ago. The company then went on to develop the legendary Tukon line of micro-indentation testers – the industry standard for Knoop and Vickers testing. Wilson also pioneered many other hardness products such as the Brale diamond indenter, Rockwell test blocks, and the Equitron Jominy fixture.

In 1993, Instron purchased Wilson Instruments and Wolpert GmbH. Today Instron’s hardness product lines include Rockwell, micro-indentation, image analysis systems, Brinell, portable testers, and a wide range of accessories.  To strengthen our commitment to providing the products and technical service to fulfill our customers’ most demanding material analysis applications, we are happy to announce that Wilson Instruments will be joining Buehler, a division of ITW and a leading manufacturer of scientific equipment and supplies for use materials analysis. This union of two ITW divisions combines brands with long histories and strong reputations of market-leading technology, material analysis support, and customer service.


In 1996, Instron purchased the structural testing business from Schenck Testing Systems, which expanded our portfolio of products that test automobile performance, and formed Instron Structural Testing (IST).


Dynatup impact testing products have become a worldwide laboratory and industry standard for instrumented impact testing. The Dynatup name is synonymous with impact testing for a diverse range of materials in industries such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, medical, consumer products, and sporting goods. 

Instron acquired Dynatup in 1997 and went on to launch new models in the 8100 series of drop tower test systems. Combining the proven technologies of both Dynatup and Instron, the 8100 series is recognized as the industry standard for high-energy metals testing. The 8150 model is the largest standard drop tower manufactured, delivering 28,000 J (20,500 ft-lbs) of impact energy. In addition to drop tower testing systems, Dynatup also produces instrumented tups and fixtures for pendulum impact machines.


In 1998, Instron purchased SATEC Systems, Inc. Since then, Instron has developed a new line of static hydraulic universal testing machines, including the LX, DX, and KPX models, all of which utilize the powerful Instron control system. Today, the SATEC brand is known as the Industrial Series for Instron’s hydraulically powered universal materials testing machines.


At the end of 2008 Instron acquired CEAST, the Italian based provider of comprehensive testing equipment for impact, rheology and thermo-mechanical properties of all polymer types. The combined experience of Dynatup and CEAST in material and structural testing markets lead to a series of developments in Instron’s impact systems, software specifications, and features, taking the best from both companies’ product lines. The result is the new CEAST 9300 series drop tower systems and the CEAST 9000 series pendulum systems.

In addition to the impact systems, CEAST brings expertise in rheological investigation with a complete line of instruments, from basic Melt Flow Testers to advanced Capillary Rheometers. Included in the CEAST testing applications are the innovative HDT Vicat Thermal-Mechanical Systems, designed to determine the behavior of plastic materials at high temperatures. These advances have allowed Instron to enhance its product offerings for the plastics industry.

Tissue Growth Technologies

In 2013, Instron acquired Tissue Growth Technologies (TGT), a premier supplier of commercial bioreactors to grow and stimulate developing tissues. TGT brings expertise with their LumeGen, CartiGen, LigaGen, CardioGen and OsteoGen technologies designed for the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine.

Firsts and Milestones

Numerous Firsts

During its history, Instron has been at the vanguard of the materials testing equipment industry, scoring numerous and significant “firsts.” It was the first materials testing company to use strain gauge technologies to measure force in a materials testing machine, as well as the first to use solid-state electronics, computerized testing systems, digital electronics, digital signal processing, and infrared lighting. Also, it was one of the first companies to use video strain measurement. Further, Instron was the first in its industry to offer automatic transducers and reverse stress loading (so that electromechanical (EM) machines can go through zero from tension to compression testing).

Old Instron Testing Equipment

New Product Innovations and Introductions


  • A solonoid-operated mechanical NCR calculator (allowed for the first automated printout of data)
  • An automated pencil lead testing machine (before any industrial robots existed)


  • The innovative 10-F wedge grips
  • The pneumatically operated grips
  • The 600° F radiant environmental chamber
  • The first system for testing at temperatures of 1000°C
  • The first optical extensometer
  • The first system for obtaining direct numeric values from a test
  • The first load strain control system for Electromechanical (EM) machines
  • The 50,000 pound testing instrument
  • The first digital test recording device (an incremental punched tape system)
  • The Data Analyser in the Model 1161 (first use of a microprocessor in a materials testing system)
  • The first long travel extensometer
  • The world’s first solid state console


  • An automatic yarn loader
  • Seat belt grips
  • The 1120 series test instruments
  • The Model 1130
  • The Model 1211 dynamic cycler systems
  • The 1251 test system
  • The 2430 automatic data acquisition system
  • The Microcon data handling systems (the first Instron digital readout)
  • The rotary rheometer (to measure flow properties of liquid and fluid testing)
  • A line of food testing fixture accessories devised to measure the freshness & texture of foods
  • The first road simulation machine
  • High-rate testers to 50,000 inches per minute
  • An electromagnetic resonance machine
  • Several very large servo-hydraulic projects of 150-ton bend and 250-ton compression testing machines
  • The first integral screen-based servohydraulic testing control system
  • The thermo-mechanical super alloy fatigue systems
  • The shaker system -- introduced as a stand alone and as a composite machine with a servo hydraulic test frame
  • The Major/Minor system (the first system to investigate combined action of major and minor cycles on fatigue crack growth)
  • Computerized dynamic test machines


  • Biaxial servo hydraulic machines
  • Servo hydraulic test beds for simulating actual conditions on snow mobiles
  • The 1362 creep and low cycle fatigue systems
  • Test beds for automatic steering gears
  • The low cost Model 1000 tabletop testers
  • The first robotic system made in Japan
  • The automatic extensometer from Instron Ltd
  • A high temperature vacuum servo hydraulic test system
  • The first automatically operating extensometer
  • The 2410/DSA (first testing system to use a commercially-available computer system)
  • The Chamber and vibration system (first fully integrated environmental testing system)
  • The 4200 series electromechanical testers
  • The Model 4301 (the first machine with built-in diagnostic system)
  • The Model 6000 (first integral screen-based electromechanical testing control system)
  • The 4500 electromechanical system (the first fully-digital EM testing system)
  • The 8500 servo hydraulic system (the first fully-digital SH testing system)
  • The Supergrip system (the first system for bend-free tensile testing of ceramics)
  • The Testmaster robotic system (the first commercially-available automated testing system)
  • Rig systems and many applications for computerized servo hydraulic and electromechanical systems


  • A non-contacting video extensometer
  • A system to test near absolute zero
  • The model 2130 (the first fully-digital load/strain controller)
  • The 8500 simulation system for the racing car industry for testing Indy cars
  • The SPiDAR (the first iterative control system to use non-square matrices)
  • The 5500 series Merlin™ system
  • The 4400 system
  • The Short Furnace (the first furnace for testing in-air at 1600°C)
  • The McLaren rig (the first fully-digital four poster rig)
  • The 8511 servo-hydraulic testing systems
  • An automatic hardness and tensile testing machine system
  • The Model 8516
  • FastTrack Software and Max for Windows
  • The Wilson 600 Rockwell hardness tester
  • The ARGO II Simulator
  • The model 5569 with enhanced video extensometer
  • The model 2000 Rockwell tester
  • The labtronic 8800 digital simulation component test control system
  • The Wilson Rockwell 2000
  • Enhanced Merlin 5500 & 4400 testers and software


In September of 1999, Instron was acquired by Kirkland Capital Partners, a privately held company. In October of 2005, Instron was acquired by ITW, as the beginning of their test and measurement platform.

New product innovations in the 21st century have been:

  • The Touchpanel controller
  • The SATEC LX & DX series (small footprint hydraulic universal testing machines)
  • Bluehill® 2 Software
  • The ElectroPuls series of Electrodynamic fatigue systems
  • WaveMatrix™ Fatigue Software
  • Minuteman ELT™ Microhardness Software
  • The BioPuls® bath