Spotlight: Nanomechanics, Inc introduce The Service Lab

Materials World magazine
1 Sep 2016

Ellis Davies talks to Kurt Johanns, Director of Lab Services at Nanomechanics, Inc, about the company’s latest addition, the Service Lab.

Could you outline what Nanomechanics, Inc does?

Nanomechanics, Inc designs and produces advanced nanoscale metrology products, including turnkey nanoindenters, modular devices for nanoscale actuation and sensing and contract testing. Nanomechanics offers products for both industry and academia. In addition to turnkey solutions, we provide modular components to microscopy companies to integrate nanoscale mechanical testing with advanced visualisation.

What prompted the creation of the Service Lab?

The Service Lab was created to ensure that the company has a grounded perspective on the industrial and academic indentation testing landscapes. Requirements for high-performance mechanical testing equipment changes as material systems become more complex. The Service Lab is in tune with the expectations of those driving the changes. Creating a Service Lab brings additional benefits to the company. First, we are able to employ scientists and engineers that interact with customers and provide useful feedback to the design engineers, R&D departments, as well as the sales and marketing staff. Second, the Service Lab provides an excellent opportunity to test and prototype new software and instrumentation. Finally, it provides a direct way to demonstrate equipment and applications at Nanomechanics, Inc. The Service lab was created in the same building as Nanomechanics, Inc in Oak Ridge, USA. As such, it has access to a large number of nanoindentation equipment.

What tests can the Service Lab conduct?

There is a wide range of testing services available. Instrumented indentation testing with nanoindentation equipment is the primary service that we offer. This includes measurements of elastic modulus, hardness, fracture toughness, strength, stiffness, creep and viscoelastic properties on metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites that come in a variety of geometries such as bulk samples, thin films and structures. We offer test procedures from ISO standardised indentation testing, high-speed mechanical property mapping, to in situ testing inside scanning electron microscopes. Furthermore, we employ staff with a diverse yet experienced background in mechanical properties of materials and mechanical testing. There have been very few samples we have not been able to test, which is a testimony to the power and flexibility of the nanoindenters available.

How do you collaborate with universities?

Nanomechanics, Inc. and the Service Lab have a strong link with established professors, graduate students and undergraduate students at the university level. We foster these collaborations because the research occurring in academia eventually propagates to industry. This gives us a unique perspective on the future of indentation testing while forcing us to keep up with the precision and accuracy demanded by a research environment. With a staff of scientists and engineers, we help universities design experiments, test samples and examine results. Typical outcomes of collaboration with universities are posters and talks at international materials science conferences, as well as joint publications in highly cited research journals. In addition to collaborative research, we often help support the generation of data for the purpose of applying for grants and funding. Finally, the Service Lab offers training for students who are interested in mechanical properties and mechanical testing. These week-long camps highlight the importance of experimental design and understanding what constitutes a good mechanical property measurement.

How are the customers included in the testing process?

Customers are integral to the testing process. The Service Lab has a dedicated staff of scientists and engineers with decades of experience in mechanical testing. However, we are interested in what the customer needs. To that end, we are in close contact over the course of the testing process. This includes initial contact and consultation of test services, updates during the sample shipping and testing schedule, a detailed report of the results and finally we are available via telephone or online for discussion and interpretation of the test results. The Service Lab can provide results from standard reference materials using international testing standards upon request. It is also able to accommodate non-disclosure agreements.

What is the availability of the Service Lab? 

The testing and consulting capabilities of the Service Lab are available to anyone in the world. While our centre of operations is based in Oak Ridge, USA, we have a worldwide distribution network with access to our nanoindentation instruments. 

NTS adds reverberation chamber

National Technical Systems, Inc, USA, an independent testing, inspection and certification company, has expanded its testing capabilities with the addition of reverberation chambers at five of its USA laboratories.

In comparison with traditional EMC/EMI chambers, reverberation chambers can shorten test time by 50%. Many companies such as the FAA, AEROCAE, RTXA and Boeing prefer reverb to anechoic chambers because of the savings in time and money, as well as the robustness of the testing method. The copper lined chambers are capable of achieving greater than DO-160 Category L levels.

Detecting corrosion under insulation 

Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is difficult to detect, and the potential for extensive structural damage to pipelines makes CUI a major issue for the oil and gas industry. Frazer-Nash Consultancy, in collaboration with the University of Southampton, UK, has developed a new method to identify the condition of a metal asset under insulation. Using sensors and logging technologies, continuous monitoring can be achieved with minimal external access and disturbance. 

A boron-doped diamond sensor can identify multiple potential corrosion factors using a microelectrode array that detects and monitors the metal ions present in a microenvironment. This sensor can measure the chemical environmental pH balance and presence of oxygen. The information gathered allows an operator to assess the corrosion type and intervene, reducing the likelihood of failure and operational costs. 

The sensor has been constructed and tested within a laboratory environment, and the next stage for the team is to conduct proof-of-concept testing. 

First Solar passes Atlas 25+ test

Atlas Material Testing Technology, USA has verified photovoltaic manufacturer First Solar’s original Series 4 thin film solar modules after undergoing the Atlas 25+ Comprehensive PV Durability Testing programme. The test is designed to subject photovoltaic modules to environmental degradation expected over a long service period, providing manufacturers with data demonstrating the long-term durability of their product, supporting warranty and performance claims. 

Atlas says that First Solar achieved impressive results, allowing them to join a handful of manufacturers certified by Atlas’s partner, international testing and inspection company SGS. A First Solar photovoltaic array in San Luis Obispo, USA.

British Engineering Services acquires Nortest 

British Engineering Services (BES) has acquired Nortest, a non-destructive testing business based in Salford, UK. Nortest offers NDT, positive material examinations and welding certification services.

The acquisition of Nortest will allow BES to provide customers with quality engineering testing, inspection and certification services in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Nortest will continue to trade from its laboratory in Salford.  

Support for NDT companies from Element

Global materials testing and qualification company Element Materials Technology has added a new service to support NDT companies and in-house NDT departments with independent certification. Element now offers automatic ultrasonic testing calibration verification services at its Dutch laboratories, making accurate weld qualification data available to clients. 

Element says its new service delivers commercial efficiencies though reduced turnaround and higher accuracy, and also retains micro-slice samples for future analysis using water jet cutting techniques rather than grinding.