Company Offers Materials Testing and Research Services in Four LocationsThis technical information has been contributed by
CHARLESTON, S.C.--New product innovations, especially in today's high-tech industries, are often made possible by underlying advances in materials science. In the solar photovoltaic industry, for example, the engineering of materials at the nanoscale has helped launch a wave of innovations in thin film solar cells, including those currently being manufactured by the likes of Nanosolar and HelioVolt.
On the flip side, materials are often at issue when a part or component fails. Whether a product is innovative, reliable, or subject to failure, the integrity of its materials plays a big role in determining its fate. Therefore, manufacturers stand a better chance of avoiding costly product failures if they know what to expect from the materials that they've specified. Answering their difficult questions about materials is the business of IMR Test Labs, a national company with facilities in Charleston, S.C., Ithaca, N.Y., Louisville, Ky., and Portland, Oregon. IMR draws upon the expertise of its materials scientists, engineers, chemists, metallurgists, technicians, and support staff to provide materials research and testing services that include mechanical and corrosion testing; metrology; chemical and failure analysis; metallurgical evaluation; and polymer analysis and characterization.
"In today's tough economy, manufacturers are looking for ways to cut costs without cutting quality," Gregg Anderson, technical sales manager and associate metallurgist at IMR Test Labs, wrote in an email to Design-2-Part Magazine. "Our metal testing and other metallurgical services can save time and money by finding and eliminating metal part and product deficiencies."
According to Anderson, IMR employs the latest in analytical equipment and prides itself on quick delivery times. "Whether it is RoHS or WEEE compliance testing for hazardous materials, identification of the best polymer or coating for UV resistance, or performing a failure analysis on a broken component to determine whether it was a design or material issue, IMR is ready for the task," he wrote.
IMR provides materials testing services to numerous sectors of manufacturing and research, ranging from aerospace and power generation to the automotive, nuclear, and medical device industries. Greentech is one of the sectors that the company is targeting. "We've provided technical support or expertise for the sourcing of materials for purity, strength, and corrosion resistance," he continued. Examples of the types of questions that IMR hears from its clients, he says, include "Did we spec the right polymer for the end-use application?"; "If I change material, how will I know if it performs the same?"; "Will I achieve a better corrosion resistance if I go with this coating, or change to this SS alloy?"; and "Are these circuit boards that I've outsourced from China RoHS compliant?"
The company supports its mechanical testing services with an in-house machine shop that offers machining services ranging from precision test sample preparation to custom fixture building and prototype machining. IMR also provides product testing, and has performed testing on turbine blades for large land-based wind generators. Balsa wood, sheathed with composite fiber, constituted the core material of these huge turbine blades, according to Anderson. The company has also worked on hydrogen storage systems for the fuel cell market. "In each case, IMR has had to step outside the box with creative thinking while using core materials testing technology," Anderson wrote.
Although IMR doesn't produce components, its services can help companies solve production challenges, Anderson says. From problems with the supply chain to issues with the manufacturing process, the company acts as a third party referee in getting the correct results and answers to questions like "How can I tell if I got the material I paid for?" and "Why is my stainless steel rusting?"
"IMR can help you to reduce a product's weight while ensuring durability, increase your confidence in the supply chain through a proactive testing program, and reduce overall warranty claims in the process," he concluded.
IMR Test Labs' facilities in Ithaca, N.Y., Charleston, S.C., and Louisville, Ky., are A2LA certified. Its Ithaca facility is also NADCAP certified, as is its Portland facility. For more on IMR Test Labs, visit www.imrcharleston.com.
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