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How important is application testing in high-performance plastics?
In our view, it’s very important. By conducting appropriate material characterization testing followed by simulation and application testing, you can save time (and thus cost) to the final customers by reducing their validation testing programs. Let’s explore:
Simply defined, testing involves, “Taking measurements to check the quality, performance, or reliability (of a product) before putting it into widespread use or practice.” Testing is important to ensure that the material meets (or even exceeds) the specific needs of the day-to-day demands of the application.
What are some types of testing?
Testing overall mechanical properties in different temperature ranges is a first set of tests to be performed. This can be followed by long-term aging (either dynamic or static). Temperature stability tests such as HDT, TGA, TOS are also of value. For some applications, tribological tests are needed to understand the surface, friction and wear properties of the material. Creep of the material under different temperature and pressure ranges are also critical for some applications.
When the material is exposed to some kinds of corrosive fluids, compatibility tests are needed to make sure that the material can maintain its high-performance properties. For example, this is the case with oil and gas applications where materials can be exposed to a liquid containing very high H2S concentrations, or in space exploration applications where materials must resist hypergolic fluid. For automotive and aerospace transmission applications, compatibility with oil and lubricants is very often a must.
Accelerating testing methods are often used to determine the ultimate service lifetime of plastic materials in a short time frame. In this way, materials are subjected to typical operating conditions (such as pressures, cycling, temperatures, etc.) to uncover any potential failures before production begins. In an accelerated testing lab, years of service can be simulated in just a few days.
This accelerated method also gives us the ability to not just project, but prove how a plastic material will respond over the long haul.
Consider testing high-performance plastics to determine:
- Heat resistance
- Friction/wear/lubrication properties
How often should testing be conducted?
Ideally, plastic and polymer testing should begin at the onset of the design stage, or at the time of a significant product redesign. Once the ideal performance parameters are determined, manufacturing can begin with little risk, and reorders can be easily duplicated. Though no testing method is perfect, it’s a very crucial step in the design process to ensure critical lifetime performance and precise fit from your critical parts.
Where can I find reputable testing?
Our advice is to partner with a trusted supplier to test your high-performance plastics. At Saint-Gobain Seals, we invest heavily in our lab equipment to ensure your parts meet your specifications. In fact, we’re among the only seal manufacturer with specialized equipment to predict how your material will perform in extreme temperature environments such as cryogenic temperature conditions. Our versatile equipment pieces are custom fabricated to our specifications so that we can help you minimize design iterations and manufacturing lead time.
Ready to start testing?
Let’s get started! We’re happy to help you match the right material to the right application conditions. We offer a variety of materials, plus exceptional modeling and design simulation expertise!