Materials testing labs provide invaluable services to product designers, manufacturers, and suppliers in virtually every industry imaginable. Here’s what you need to know about our work, and how we can help your organization.
What is a materials testing lab?
A materials testing lab is a scientific laboratory specializing in determining the physical, mechanical, and/or chemical components and properties of a material. Material testing labs characterize the materials they analyze via a wide variety of testing methods, depending on the material they’re testing and what they need to find out about it.
Because they can test so many different materials in so many different ways, material testing labs have a huge number of potential applications. They can be used to test products for quality control purposes, to characterize unknown substances for safety or analytical purposes, to verify the composition and/or qualities of a material in order to determine how that material could be used, and more.
Labs can have different capabilities depending on the expertise of their staff and the testing tools at their disposal. For example, while many material testing labs will only perform routine materials characterization based on pre-specified methods, Innovatech Labs specializes in unique and unknown materials analysis.
Instead of using pre-specified methods to identify materials of a known category, our analysts can work directly with customers to determine the analytical technique or techniques which will obtain the data they are looking for.
What can a material testing lab do for your product?
As an example, Innovatech Labs splits our primary services into six broad categories. Though these categories do not necessarily represent everything a materials testing lab could do for any business/material, they do represent what we do for most of our clients:
This is the main application of any materials testing lab. The lab’s scientists subject the material to be analyzed to a number of different tests in order to understand its properties, find out how those properties affect its usage, and determine how those properties might respond to different environments and/or interactions.
The material analysis techniques Innovatech applies most frequently are:
- Auger Electron Spectroscopy
- Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis
- Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy
- Ion Chromatography
- Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry
- Scanning Electron Microscopy/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy
- Light Microscopy & Imaging
- Differential Scanning Calorimetry
- Thermal Gravimetric Analysis
- Melt Flow Rate
Material Testing & Characterization
Material testing and characterization is often conducted to determine how to make a product and/or manufacturing process more effective. Like material analysis, it can also be used to ensure that a certain component of a product will be able to maintain integrity/effectiveness in a wide variety of environments and/or after undergoing a wide variety of interactions. We also frequently conduct material testing to identify potential contaminants and/or problematic interactions between materials that may compromise the efficacy or safety of the material when it’s used.
Innovatech frequently conducts material testing and characterization in order to:
- Identify discoloration, particles, or residue on the surface of a component or product and determine where it came from
- Figure out why polymer-based components are showing signs of wear and stress
- Identify the size, quantity, composition, and implications of particles on a product to be used in a critical environment
- Compare products to their competitors or evaluate the comparative properties of multiple products at once
- Reverse engineer products to understand what they’re made of
Innovatech frequently conducts materials testing for the purposes of quality control. These tests can be run to avoid potential issues, or after an issue has been discovered. Material testing can also be used to scientifically prove that your product is compliant with safety standards and effective within its intended parameters of use. If any problems are discovered during the quality control materials testing process, our experts can also identify why these problems are occurring and what about the product will need to be altered to correct the issue.
Innovatech frequently conducts quality control testing in order to:
- Identify residual solvents felt behind after a product is used
- Determine the cause of product failures (see also: failure analysis)
- Identify stains and contaminants
- Analyze passivation layers
Materials testing labs are very frequently used to test products for micro contaminants that are too small to be seen. Materials testing labs can identify these micro contaminants, determine where they came from based on their composition, and provide informed recommendations on how to prevent the contamination from happening again.
Innovatech most frequently conducts microcontamination analysis for the hard drive industry and participated in the creation of many of the IDEMA standards dealing with microcontamination. We can also provide contamination testing to a wide variety of other industries.
Materials testing labs are very frequently asked to determine why a product failed. We can do so by figuring out which materials within the product caused the failure, how, specifically, those materials triggered the failure, and how to prevent such failures from occurring again.
Innovatech frequently conducts failure analysis on polymers, adhesives, epoxies, medical devices, circuit boards and other sensitive electronics, and more. These same types of techniques can also be used to prevent failures before they happen, for quality control and to improve design and manufacturing processes.
Testing Determination & Analysis (Professional Services)
This is Innovatech’s specialty. In addition to standard material characterization and analysis testing, experts at material analysis labs can work with their clients to determine how they should approach testing a particular product and/or material depending on the apparent qualities of the material and the data the client needs.
When should you have your product tested?
Simply put, whenever you need to know more about the materials your product is made of or how your product will react to, or interact with, a certain environment or material, a materials testing lab can help you. Here are just a few of the most common problems we solve:
- A component of your product appears discolored
- There are unknown particles or residues left behind either on your product or on surfaces your product comes into contact with
- Your polymer-based component is showing undue signs of wear or stress
- You need to be absolutely sure your product will be able to maintain its integrity in a critical environment or under heavy usage
- You want to compare your product to your competitor’s
- You want to evaluate the offering of another vendor
- You need to determine why your product has failed and make sure it doesn’t happen again
- You need to make sure your design/manufacturing process is not unduly affecting your product’s integrity
- You want to compare multiple manufacturing techniques to find the most efficient/effective alternative for the creation of a particular product
- and much more
How can I get a material testing lab’s help?
If you need to solve any of the challenges outlined above, or you have any other material analysis needs, contact the experts at Innovatech right away. We pride ourselves on our ability to identify the right solution for your particular material analysis needs.