What are rubber laboratory services?
Rubber laboratory services can refer to a wide range of tests and analyses to support product development, predict performance, pinpoint the cause of a problem, and more. Rubber laboratory services provide objective measurements of physical and analytical properties of a rubber product or material. A laboratory may measure a raw material, a whole product, or a sample excised from a product.
Different Types of Services
Rubber laboratory services can be loosely grouped into four categories: physical testing, analytical testing, processing testing, and custom mixing and compounding.
The purpose of physical testing is to measure the physical and mechanical properties of a rubber material or product. This data can be used to predict how a material will behave in its service environment or in response to a particular stressor. Physical testing can range from artificial weathering testing to dynamic mechanical analysis.
Analytical testing, also referred to as chemical analysis or material analysis, measures and tests rubber materials at the chemical level. Analytical testing might be used to identify raw materials or contaminants, even just trace amounts, in a rubber sample. Companies may also rely on material analysis laboratory services to quantify different substances within a material to determine compliance with industry standards.
Processing tests provide highly valuable data for manufacturers looking to improve processes. Processing analyses are utilized to predict how a given rubber material will behave in the manufacturing environment. This includes extrusion flow analysis, mixing processability, and mold flow analysis.
Custom mixing and compounding services, also called formulation development, can support the research and development process for companies that produce mass quantities of a given compound. A testing laboratory can mix test batches in small-batch mixers, such as Banbury mixers, so companies can assess experimental compounds and tweak the formulation for moving forward with large-scale production.
Why are these services important?
Rubber testing laboratories can provide vital support to companies and manufacturers at nearly every stage of the product development process, from research and development to product launch and beyond.
An analytical test can start the process on the right foot by determining purity and quality of the raw material itself. Analytical techniques can identify and quantify possible contaminants or simply observe the chemical composition of a given material before production begins.
Mechanical rubber testing is a valuable tool for predicting product performance. For example, if a product is destined for a highly abrasive service environment or extreme temperature swings, testing experts can recreate those variables in a controlled laboratory environment. Companies can analyze the test data to determine whether the product will perform well under those conditions or whether further research and development is needed. These same tests can be used to determine the lifespan of a given product and how long it can remain in service before it needs to be retired.
A physical testing laboratory can also help to predict and improve the manufacturing process. Processing tests can measure flow rate and other characteristics that determine how a compound will respond to extrusion, injection molding, and other manufacturing processes.
Once a product is ready to go to market, the final step is regulatory testing to demonstrate compliance. In order to prevent falsified results, most regulatory bodies will not allow companies to submit their own testing data. Instead, regulatory bodies will only accept testing data that comes from an independent, third-party rubber testing laboratory.
In some cases, standardized testing won’t detect an underlying issue, and a rubber product or material can fail to meet expectations in service. An experienced rubber testing laboratory can perform failure analysis or root cause analysis to pinpoint the source of the problem. Whether the data reveals a quick fix or a deeper issue, the company can use that data to determine their next steps.
Laboratory testing can be a valuable benchmarking tool as well. An experienced lab can cut test samples from a rubber product that has been removed from the field and conduct tests to measure how the product has aged. This is valuable for competitor research as well as lifespan prediction.
Who needs rubber laboratory services?
Many key players in the rubber industry rely on independent laboratories to provide valuable rubber testing services and data.
Also called raw materials suppliers or distributors, rubber manufacturers use independent laboratory testing data to demonstrate the quality of their products to customers. Rubber chemical analyses can assess the purity of a given material and quantify any contaminants to confirm compliance with allowable levels.
In recent years, the rubber industry has seen increased demand for sustainable alternatives to legacy polymers. Companies that specialize in green alternatives often use laboratory data in their sales and marketing materials to demonstrate the value and performance of these newer products.
Manufacturers of Products Using Rubber
Companies that manufacture rubber products often turn to rubber testing laboratories to streamline the product development process. These companies outsource performance and compliance testing to trusted, independent laboratories so they can continue to meet production deadlines and industry quality standards.
Rubber testing services can also help rubber manufacturers maintain strong relationships with leading OEMs and tier suppliers in a given industry. Rubber product manufacturers’ customers are usually original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) or tier suppliers rather than individual consumers. Most OEMs require their suppliers to validate their products at least once a year and provide testing data from an independent laboratory to prove that all products meet the OEM’s standards.
ACE Rubber & Silicone Experts
Our testing experts come from a wide range of testing laboratory and industry backgrounds, giving us a practical understanding of what our customers do and need. We have team members with over thirty years of analytical testing experience and others who worked in custom rubber mixing, extrusion manufacturing, and molding manufacturing before coming to ACE. Our experts have the real industry experience to understand what is most important to our clients, and we’ve tailored our testing reports and collaborative style to be as valuable as possible to them.
To learn more about the rubber laboratory services offered by ACE Laboratories, get in touch with us today.
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