ROEDIGER Agencies of Stellenbosch, which offers SA’s only dedicated testing laboratory service for the polymer, elastomer and composites sectors, has made further investments in lab equipment.
The systems installed over the past two years expand the company’s services, give it the ability to conduct a variety of new tests and also give it additional back-up to cover in the event of any test equipment failure, meaning that it can virtually guarantee that it can conduct just about any test required by product or material manufacturers.
One of the challenges for test labs is that a wide variety of test equipment is available, much of which is very specific and the costs are frighteningly high, so making educated selections is important. Given the size of the local converting market, the purchase of versatile systems was thus necessary for the Stellenbosch lab, which services manufacturers across the country and further afield.
Systems from Agilent Research Laboratories and Thermo-Fisher Scientific of the USA and Netzsch of Germany, all top global test equipment marques, have recently been installed.
Among these, the new Triple Quadrupole LC/MS (liquid chromatography, mass spectrophotometer) system from Agilent is being used to identify additives. The system can literally identify even the most minute additive content in material or moulded product samples and provide clear statistical reports for compliance to food grade or any health or related standard requirement.
The new Netzsch calorimeter for thermogravimetric analysis is being used for tests of inorganic fillers in polymers, which is necessary due to increased use of calcium carbonate (CaCO2) by bag manufacturers.
Another instrument from Netzsch, a Polyma DSC 214 system, is being used for characterisation of polymers. This was a necessary investment for the lab after the previous system ‘blew up’ during an Eskom power outage. UPS and power generators have also been installed. Such events are a common hazard for test labs due to the use of extreme temperatures (heat or cold) and current as well as the elevated simulation of UV or other conditions.
Also new at the lab, the Smart iTX accessory from Thermo Fisher is a specialised crystal spectrometer crystal which uses spectral data to identify polymers, copolymers and additives in plastics, inspect incoming raw materials and analyze volatile liquids.
About the only area where Roediger Agencies is not involved is that of elemental testing, to identify exact chemical elements, where very expensive electron microscopes are required. In such cases the tests are contracted out and, fortuitously, handled just as expeditiously.
Besides that, there has been a lot of interest lately in testing of cannabis products, particularly of cannabis oils, given the recently changed legislation.