Imagine opening a can of your favorite soft drink, only to find it tastes different than usual. And then the next one is even farther from the original flavor. Can after can, there’s no consistency — some are more carbonated, some less sweet, and at least one makes you feel sick to your stomach.
How likely would you be to buy that brand again?
Quality control is a crucial part of manufacturing. It’s an enormous responsibility for manufacturers to ensure their products are reliable, consistent, safe, and in compliance with rules and regulations.
At Innovatech Labs, we help manufacturers take on that responsibility. We have decades of experience in both ensuring quality before a product even ships, and in identifying issues that arise after a product has hit the market. We have over 25 years of experience working with a wide range of manufacturers to deliver quick and accurate testing results.
As manufacturing processes become ever more automated and complex, quality issues can be tough to diagnose and mitigate. As such, quality control testing is a crucial part of any product’s lifecycle.
Here are just a few of the most common types of problems we can help solve.
Common Applications for Quality Control Testing
We offer a wide range of materials testing and techniques at the lab. As such, we can customize the testing regimen to the customer’s unique needs, depending on the type of product, the issue we’re analyzing and more. The following examples will give you an idea of what’s possible — but don’t hesitate to give us a challenge.
Determining the Cause of Product Failures
All products have the potential to fail, regardless of how tight quality control might be during the initial manufacturing run. The crucial component, in the event of a failure, is being able to identify the cause and correct it, minimizing downtime and potential financial loss.
Failure analysis is one of our key quality control testing services. Clients turn to us to identify whether an ingredient, contaminant, or even a step in the production process caused a product to fail.
Each product failure problem is unique, so we deploy a wide range of tests and techniques for each, including:
Finding the Cause of Shorts in Circuit Boards
In electronics and computer manufacturing, the smallest particle of contamination can cause a massive headache. Even microscopic and ionic contaminations can cause a circuit board to short out, leading to a failed product, consumer frustration, and a loss in production time.
An electronics manufacturer was experiencing shorts in their circuit boards. They suspected the rinse water they used could be responsible for the issue, and asked us to analyze a sample for contamination.
For this problem, our team of scientists chose IC testing, which uses high-performance liquid chromatography to separate and quantify anions and cations.
Our scientists determined that, in the failing circuit board, there were chemicals present that were commonly found in the rinse water used during production. Our client changed their water source and eliminated the problem. Read the full story here.
More Case Studies:
Identifying Stains and Contaminants
A discoloration on an electrode or a haze on a plastic surface can be a massive headache for manufacturers. At best, it’s a cosmetic issue that has to be addressed before the product ships to consumers. At worst, it’s an indication of an error somewhere in the manufacturing process, and could even be affecting the product’s reliability and safety.
This is a broad category of quality control issue with no shortage of potential examples. We bring our full tool belt of testing techniques to bear on these types of issues. Depending on the specific problem, tests could include:
- FTIR Analysis
- Ion Chromatography
- Auger Electron Spectroscopy
Identifying a Stain on Medical Equipment
A medical device manufacturer found a stain was appearing on certain titanium electrodes in one of their products. They needed to determine what the chemical composition of the stain was to find out what might be causing it and correct the error.
As the stain was a very thin film (<100 angstroms), Auger electron spectroscopy was the right technique to examine the stain and solve the problem.
The tests determined the stains had high levels of calcium, chlorine and potassium — all of which are found in hard water. This test confirmed the client’s suspicion that the hard water used in the rinse cycle for these electrodes was leaving residue, and they were able to address the problem. Read the full story here
More Case Studies:
- Identifying residual chlorine on medical devices
- Identifying a contaminant on a polyethylene surface
- Identifying a haze on a polyimide substrate
Identifying Residual Solvents
Solvents are widely used in manufacturing, for everything from cleaning equipment to engineering pharmaceuticals. These byproducts of the manufacturing process have no place in the finished product, however. Traces of solvent can compromise the quality and safety of a product — and what’s worse, these trace chemicals can be hard to detect.
Detecting Solvent in a Powdered Drug Product
A pharmaceutical client asked Innovatech Labs to determine whether ethanol, a solvent used during manufacturing a powdered drug product, was present in the finished powder.
Using headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, our team of scientists was able to analyze a sample and prove that it did, in fact, contain ethanol and determine in what quantity the solvent was present.
Thanks to this analysis, the client was able to modify the manufacturing process to mitigate the issue and ensure the quality of the finished product. You can read the whole story here.
Analyzing Passivation Layers
Among other applications, a passivation layer is what makes stainless steel impervious to rust: A chromium oxide-rich coating is what keeps the steel itself from oxidizing. For medical devices, ensuring proper surface chemistry and thickness of these layers is a crucial part of ensuring the devices are durable and safe.
We use techniques such as electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA) and Auger electron spectroscopy to analyze stainless steel and nitinol for thickness, cleanliness, and signs of contamination.
Determining Passivation Layer for a Medical Stent
Nitinol stents are becoming a material of choice for medical device manufacturers. But the surface chemistry and thickness of passivation layers is critical to ensure the devices are safe, reliable, and function properly.
A medical device manufacturer wanted to know if their Nitinol stents were free from surface impurities, and ensure that the passivation layer was of the proper depth. With Auger electron spectroscopy, our scientists were able to analyze both the chemical makeup and depth of the passivation layer.
We were able to assure the client that their sample stent met quality and safety standards. Read the whole story here.
What’s Your Quality Control Issue?
Innovatech Labs brings decades of experience and scientific expertise to bear on a wide variety of quality control issues for clients in virtually any industry. Whether your problem is similar to the above, or something we’ve never seen before, our scientists are eager to take on any challenge.
Request a quote today to get started.