In this interview, AZoM talks to Erica Lawrence, Product Manager at Instron, about how universal testing machines and how the 6800 System will address common customer pain points.
What is a Universal Testing Machine?
A universal testing machine is traditionally used for determining the tensile and/or compressive strength of materials. However, as their name implies, these machines can be far more flexible than that. By changing out accessories, universal testing machines can be adapted to perform flexure, peel, friction, torsion, puncture, shear tests, and more. While they were originally used for testing raw materials, universal testing machines have expanded their functionality to be used across nearly every phase of product development, from testing incoming raw materials all the way up to testing finished components.
What are the major customer pain points in the industry, and how does your new system attempt to solve them?
When we asked labs about what they needed in a new testing system, their requests fell into three primary categories: they wanted testing to be simpler, the machines to be smarter, and their operators to be safer. A universal testing machine is usually just one of many pieces of equipment in a standard lab, and it’s important for it to be as user-friendly as possible so operators don’t waste critical time trying to understand how to use it. In order to make their jobs simpler, we needed to make our systems smarter. Companies are also becoming more and more safety-conscious and focusing on how to eliminate hazards from their organization. Improving the safety of our systems would go a long way towards helping them meet that goal.
With all of this in mind, we’ve incorporated some key new features into the 6800 Series. The first is a Smart-Close Air Kit which helps to reduce finger pinch hazards by closing pneumatic grips at a lower pressure during test setup. The new machines are also equipped with Instron’s patent-pending Operator Protect system architecture, with safety coaching that provides clear visual feedback about the state of the system and lets operators know when it is safe to enter the test space. Furthermore, the 6800s are equipped with Auto Positioning, which remembers the starting position of each test to ensure that tests are run in the same way every time.
What types of customers will be buying these new systems?
The 6800 Series is available with a capacity range of up to 50 kN, so a huge variety of customers will be able to use it. The 6800 Series is an update to the single column and table model 5900 Series, which currently serves customers across the biomedical, automotive, electronics, and raw materials industries. Since these systems are so flexible, they are used to test everything from syringes to tires to composites.
Are these systems compliant with global testing standards?
To keep up to date with global testing standards, Instron has members on committees for ASTM, ISO, and other major standards organizations. Customers can be sure that any Instron they purchase will be compliant with the latest testing standards. In fact, we supply customers with pre-made method templates in Bluehill Universal which are designed to comply with their industry’s most common standards.
Where and when will these new systems and services be available?
The 6800 Series systems are available globally and are ready for purchase.
For customers looking to upgrade, are these new systems compatible with older accessories?
Absolutely. A universal testing machine and its corresponding accessories are a significant investment. The average age of Instron systems maintained by our service department is over 18 years, so we tried to support as many existing accessories as possible when designing the new system. For decades we’ve been using the same physical connections and mounting patterns across many of our universal testing machines, so someone who bought a machine 30 years ago stands a pretty good chance of taking their grips and fixtures and putting them on a new system.
About Erica Lawrence
Erica Lawrence is a Product Manager at Instron for electromechanical testing systems. Erica began her career at Instron in the applications engineering group, testing and providing customers with recommendations for equipment needs. Prior to working at Instron, Erica worked in the construction industry doing failure analysis and development of new materials after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University.
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