The choice of materials used in our products is critical to their performance, particularly where they are used in environments with harsh conditions like thermal cycling, high relative humidity, in a vacuum, or in high-impact applications, for example.
Customers deserve the best quality, which is why we invest in our material testing laboratory. We don’t rely on datasheets from our suppliers for critical material properties. We develop and produce products based on understanding, not trial and error.
This ensures that we combine the most effective materials with the latest innovative manufacturing processes for our customer’s applications. That is one reason that you can expect only high-quality products from Prodrive Technologies.
At Prodrive Technologies, we manufacture a wide range of products, from mechatronics to medical devices and optical components. Every application is different. Where one material may suit one application very well, it may not be appropriate for another. So, how do our designers and engineers know what materials to choose?
Our in-house materials science lab was set up to test the properties of a material before manufacture, after manufacture, and after lifetime. Properties such as strength, stiffness, glass transition temperatures and composition, for example.
Materials testing enables us to better understand the physics behind our production processes and development competencies. We are developing an extensive database to capture this data for all the materials that we test. Now, this provides invaluable knowledge to our product development and operations teams, helping them to efficiently design and manufacture products that perform to the highest standards.
We use our own test standards according to how the material may be used to establish critical values and properties. Through continuous data capture, our data can drive better decisions. This means that we now often have a faster design process. For instance, we already know which adhesive has the right properties for particular applications. We also have documentation of the measurements in our own database, so we easily share this knowledge across the company.
Then, when our products are in operation, if there are problems with the material, our laboratory team can give extremely fast feedback to suppliers for rapid resolution. We measure problems the same day rather than waiting for the suppliers to assess the problem, which previously may have taken weeks.
With so many different processes in-house, the teams at Prodrive Technologies need instant access to information about the materials we use and how they have performed in different applications, situations, and environments. This includes:
Different suppliers all test to their own standards which makes it difficult to compare materials accurately. For this reason, the materials testing laboratory at Prodrive Technologies carries out its own thermal analysis, elemental and chemical composition reports, mechanical property testing, morphology/topography/defects testing, chemical treatments, and cleanliness testing.
For example, supplier datasheets for adhesives often only provide information about the stiffness of a cured adhesive at a certain temperature. Separately, a glass transition temperature is specified. In the Prodrive Technologies materials science laboratory, we can test the stiffness of the cured adhesive over its entire specified operating temperature. We can also able to measure the change in stiffness during the glass transition. This measurement can then be combined with in-house lifetime tests and Finite Element Analysis to see how harsh conditions affect the product reliability in the long term.
By verifying and capturing the data from these tests, we can ensure continuous improvement across our design process and material selection. The result? Our customers exclusively benefit from longer life on our products and shorter design cycles.