Product quality is of the utmost importance to every manufacturing company. Quality products equal satisfied customers, a smooth manufacturing process and a healthy company bottom line. It all starts with good design, quality ingredients or materials, and using proper procedures to put it all together. However, before that product can hit the shelves, rigorous quality control testing is a must.
Materials testing services—specifically quality control testing—from a lab like Innovatech Labs can enhance a company’s quality control process by providing valuable insights into the safety, reliability and composition of a product.
What is Materials Testing?
Materials testing is a broad term that refers to the use of analytical testing techniques to identify the chemical composition or characteristics of a sample. When it comes to quality control, manufacturers often use material testing to find the cause of stains, contaminations or product failures that can lead to quality and safety issues. Some very common materials testing methods are:
Where Can Materials Testing Improve Quality Control Processes?
Whether you need to troubleshoot a known quality problem or want to be proactive, materials testing can be a useful tool for manufacturers in a variety of different industries including:
Many manufacturers use plastics as part of their actual product design or in product packaging. In recent years, companies and consumers have grown worried about the presence of harmful toxins in manufactured plastics. Materials testing techniques like FTIR or GC/MS can be used to identify any toxins or contaminants.
For example, a company wanted to make sure that a recent shipment of beach balls was free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and phthalates before shipping them off to be sold. FTIR analysis determined that the beach balls did in fact contain PVC, which allowed the company to avoid a product recall.
Solvents such as ethanol are often used in the creation of pharmaceutical products. However, if they are not properly removed, residual solvents can compromise the quality or safety of a product. Since pharmaceutical products are ingested by people, residual solvent testing is critical to ensure that solvents are not present at health threatening levels.
For example, a pharmaceutical company wanted to know whether ethanol was present in a powdered drug. Using static headspace and GC/MS analysis in tandem, Innovatech Labs was able to positively identify the presence of the solvent.
Food manufacturers often use plastics to package their food products. However solvents or toxins left behind in plastics could cause food products to take on a strange taste or odor. In addition, there are also process errors or environmental factors that could contribute to food or drink contamination. GC/MS headspace analysis can be used to identify flavor or odor-causing compounds, as well as other contaminants.
For example, soft drink manufacturers often worry about the development of the carcinogen Benzene in their products. Benzene has a sweet odor and occurs in products such as gasoline, cigarette smoke, and other relatively common chemicals. GC/MS headspace analysis can identify Benzene or other contaminations, which allows drink makers to prevent tainted products from hitting store shelves.
Stains, residues and other contaminants that occur during the manufacturing process can lead to product failures, especially when the product contains electronic components. Material testing can be used to reveal what those substances are, and help you trace them back to a step in the manufacturing process.
For example, after a head crash on a magnetic disk the manufacturer wanted to determine whether there was any physical damage to the disc or if the defect was a residue left behind on the carbon overcoat layer. Using AES, Innovatech Labs was able to identify high levels of chlorine and nickel, confirming that the disk was damaged and possibly corroded by chlorine.
Product cleanliness is incredibly important to medical device manufacturers because their devices are meant for human implantation. Any contaminants could cause slow healing times or infection, device failure or harm the person it’s implanted in. Ion chromatography is a frequently used cleanliness testing technique that can identify any ionic contaminants and help trace the contamination back to a step in the manufacturing process.
In addition, materials testing can be used to determine the passivation layers of stainless steel. Proper thickness in passivation layers is incredibly important to ensure that medical devices are able to resist corrosion when implanted into the body. ESCA analysis can measure the surface chemistry of the layers and provide information about any impurities that are within them.
Where to Turn for Materials Testing
Most manufacturers don’t have on-site lab resources to perform materials testing and analysis. However, outsourcing your quality control testing needs to an experienced lab can be cost-effective, and deliver you with fast and accurate results.
Check out our guide to materials testing methods to learn which technique may be good fit for your product quality issue. Or, to learn more about how Innovatech Labs can be your go-to lab, get in touch with us today.