One cannot guarantee success with a laboratory abrasion test. This is because there are large number of influences that need to be modeled in laboratory conditions. Consequently tests may not identify potential problems. In spite of testing manufacturers are left unaware of field failures till their customers return non-conforming products. If this is the case conducting tests may seem unnecessary.
The optimal solution is to study the product in actual use under the actual intended use conditions. Unfortunately, it takes several years before useful data becomes available. Furthermore, the cost of conducting a field test may be prohibitive and the complexity of identifying the influences can be unwieldy. How many companies will be ready to hold a new product release pending a multi-year test?
An accelerated laboratory test is much more attractive as companies can compress a product’s life span into a shorter duration in a monitored and controlled environment. Laboratory testing provides a uniform way to measure resistance to abrasion, enabling materials that are tested similarly to be compared. While the actual conditions materials are exposed to may not be seen in a lab test, many real world conditions can be duplicated enabling higher reproducibility with evaluations. Also there is more flexibility with the methodology it is less expensive when compared to field testing and more samples can be tested.
The main reason that companies conduct abrasion tests is to make sure that they are producing a quality product, which is defect-free, has consistent quality and features and endures throughout its life cycle. By testing it is possible for the company to do the following:
- Conduct product research and development
- Demonstrate that the product conforms to industry standards
- Develop new products
- Provide information to buyers
- Establish criteria for guarantees
Testing also offers an opportunity to create value with the product and it can be invaluable in solving warranty related issues. Beginning with the product concept and design phase test procedures can be used to do product research and development in order to evaluate available options.
Alternatively, specifications can be established that must be met with quality assurance testing. On material selection, pre-production testing and incoming inspections can be done as an initial step in quality control.
Product testing must be conducted during or after the manufacturing process to make sure the product meets specifications before shipment. Finally consumer feedback can be monitored and product returns evaluated to make sure testing specifications meet their objective.
It is possible to perform comparative tests in order to make sure that the performance and quality of materials and products are consistent over time and among production facilities or to determine that a company’s product is reasonably comparable to its competitor’s products.
In the competitive environment of today manufacturers have invested considerable efforts in reducing production costs in order to be competitive. These efforts may involve specifying a different type of construction or changing material suppliers. Unfortunately, changes have been made without considering how product performance will be affected. When there are problems in the field, it is normally blamed to lack of testing and validation. In case you are responding to warranty claims it is already too late to react to the problem. However, benchmarking techniques are used to determine the cost and adjust formulations to improve and maximize performance. One needs to note that recognized test standards caution the operator from relying on results to predict wear-life unless there is data showing a specific relationship between laboratory abrasion tests and actual wear in the intended end-use. Most of the recognized test methods offer a comparative measurement of abrasion resistance, and the results are used to rank materials.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Taber Industries.
For more information on this source, please visit Taber Industries.