Element Materials Technology - An Interview with Element Materials Technology On The Current Material Properties Testing Services

AZoM conducted a series of interviews at the MS&T 07 trade exhibition in Detroit between September 17 and 18. Here's what one of the exhibitors had to say when asked about their latest developments, products and technologies.

Interviewee:Audrey Bresler (A) , John Alexander (J), Tom Augustin (T), Element Climax Research Services and Element Technimet
Interviewer: Cameron Chai, AZoM

AZoM: It’s Cameron Chai here from azom.com reporting from the MS&T Trade Show. And today I’ve got with me Audrey Bresler, John Alexander and Tom Augustin from Element Climax Research Services and Element Technimet. And just quickly, before we get into too much depth, what does Element do exactly?

Element Materials (A): Well Element is a large parent company. My facility, Element Climax Research specialises in metals, whether it be elemental classification, failure analysis testing and tension, hardness. Tams facility, Element Technimet specialises in polymeric science, whether it’s inorganic, or to do organic testing as well.

AZoM: So you do a broad range of testing service for all industries really, I suppose?

Element Materials (A): Correct. If our two facilities can’t do it, we have 14 other sister labs across the country that maybe able to perform testing.

AZoM: So you basically just do work in the US?

Element Materials (A): No. We are abroad as well. Our parent company, Element Materials Technology, is based out of Holland. It’s a Dutch owned company. We do have facilities across the sea as well.

AZoM: Very good. So you cover a very large global area then?

Element Materials (A): Correct, world wide.

AZoM: And what is it that your division does that sets you apart from the rest, the other testing companies?

Element Materials (A): My division, Element Climax Research, specialises in metals. We do failure analysis, fatigue analysis, mechanicals testing, full chemistry as well as corrosion and wear types of testing.

AZoM: Okay. Just before you were telling me about hot hardness testing. That’s something interesting that not a lot of other people do. Can you tell me a bit about that?

Element Materials (A): Correct. We do perform hot hardness testing. I believe we’re one of the facilities out of two in the United States that can perform this type of testing up to 800 degrees Celsius.

AZoM: And what sort of applications does that type of testing have?

Element Materials (A): It tests the hardness under extreme heat conditions, whether it be metals used for automobiles, any type of metal that would be heated up significantly and we see the properties that result from that.

AZoM: So it would have application like brake testing and things like that, engine components, that type of thing?

Element Materials (A): Correct.

AZoM: So you’ve got lots of customers taking up that service at the moment?

Element Materials (A): Not a lot of customers know that there’s any facilities in the country that perform this testing. I have a specific customer that right now sends his materials to Germany for hot hardness testing and he just found out that he can have this done within the States.

AZoM: Very good. Good to hear that you’re brining more stuff, keeping it onshore rather than sending it overseas.

Element Materials (A): Absolutely. Anything we can do to help.

AZoM: Very good. Alright, now John. What does your division do, or your area of testing do that you’d like to speak about?

Element Materials (J): As with Audrey, I’m with Element Climax Research Services and another part of our company is our corrosion wear lab. We have a salt spray, fog testing, humidity testing, like a lot of labs, but we also have some unique testings like rubber wheel abrasion, and pin abrasion testing to determine the wear of products and see how long they’ll last under high wear conditions.

AZoM: So before you were telling me about a wear testing type technique that you guys have pioneered. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Element Materials (J): We call it our pin abrasion testing. It’s about a quarter inch pin, maybe a half inch deep, it could be as deep as necessary. Well basically it’s a rotating pin across a piece of sandpaper, going back and forth across, we’ll say 12 x 10 piece of sandpaper. I don’t know the size off the top of my head. And what it’s done, the amount of weight loss will determine how well the wear is. And if there’s not a lot of weight loss, it means it had a high wear resistance. If there’s a lot of material’s gone by the time it’s done, it means it wears a lot as it goes along.

AZoM: So is that technique similar at all to pin on disc type testing techniques or anything like that?

Element Materials (J): I’m not sure how it would compare. The test is pretty specific to the style. You have the advantage of having a specific surface area on a pin abrasion, being that it’s only a quarter of an inch in diameter, you’re very specific about how much surface is being worn away. That’s the great advantage of the pin abrasion. Where some tests, for instance like the rubber wheel abrasion, you know, you’re testing at a maybe a one inch wide section, but your depth and your height changes as the wear goes on. With the pin abrasion, your surface is always a quarter of an inch in diameter. It’s never changing. The height of the pin keeps dissipating, but it’s always got full contact with the sandpaper.

AZoM: Now what sort of applications and who … what sort of companies use this type of testing service?

Element Materials (J): A lot of companies who have a need for high wear resistance. So they have a lot of exposure to sand or silicon particles that would cause the metal to wear away over time. They need something that can have a high wear resistance. So they test their metal and they find out, or a new material and they find out that it’s not holding up the way another material would, they know to make adjustments in the processes.

AZoM: So things like minerals processing, materials handling, that type of thing would be interested in that type of procedure?

Element Materials (J): Absolutely. Anybody who can make a change to their material and want to know how the change is going to affect their wear and abrasion, then they would want to test this and find out. And one way or another, the advantage of the pin abrasion is that it’s very specific to the area of the sample. A quarter of an inch doesn’t change across the height of the pin.

AZoM: Sounds great. Well, best of luck with that one. I hope you get lots of customers for that one.

Element Materials (J): Thank you.

AZoM: Now Tom, you deal with more polymeric type testing. What sort of areas do you specialise in and what area does Element Technimet specialise in that area?

Element Materials (T): In the areas of polymerics, its primarily either plastics or rubber materials. And we offer a wide range of services. Kind of unique within the Element family. We are the main facility to do polymeric materials. Areas such as chemical compatibility we do a lot of work in, environmental ageing studies for materials. Probably one of the biggest areas is in the area of failure analysis. There’s a fair amount of information out there and available on failure analysis of metal parts. A lot less theoretical information available on failure analysis of polymer parts. So we have a wide range of techniques, some very similar to what would be used in the metal side to do both material verification of polymeric parts as well as fractography type studies, mounting, polishing, using stereomicroscopes, scanning electron microscopes to look at fractured surfaces, to determine how and why a part failed with an ultimate goal being to help a customer solve the failure problem. How do they stop it from happening again.

AZoM: So what sort of application do these type of testing procedures have? Are you getting lots of work from the automotive industry that’s probably using more and more polymeric parts?

Element Materials (T): Yeah, it’s very wide ranging. Automotive is certainly one of our big clients, appliance industry. A lot of consumer products in general. Just as you mentioned, there’s a lot of people are switching from metal components to polymeric components. They’re finding that they have to do different design, they have different design issues, different ways of designing and building parts. And there’s not quite as broad an understanding of polymeric materials as there is of metal parts. So that’s where a lab like us comes in to help them both in the upfront design work as well as in solving problems that might come up later in the field.

AZoM: That’s good to hear you’re hopefully solving the problems before they happen then.

Element Materials (T): That’s our goal. I mean the closer we can tie ourselves in with our clients, the better we understand what they’re trying to achieve, you know, the sooner we can help them in both design and development part of the process.

AZoM: Excellent. Alright Tom, John and Audrey, thanks very much for your time and I hope the MS&T show goes well for you.

Element Materials (A): Thanks again.

Element Materials (J): Thank you.

Element Materials (T): Thank you very much.

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