Supporting UK Composites

R-TECH Materials Invests in Zwick’s Latest Composites Testing Technology

Dr Geraint Havard using the Zwick machine

R-TECH Materials’ rapidly growing polymer and composites testing laboratory has invested in a Zwick 250kN universal testing machine - the first of its kind in the UK to run on the latest testXpert III software.

Renowned for the quality of its equipment and sophisticated software suite, the German-made Zwick machine – which will be aligned to aerospace standards – will enable R-TECH to carry out more complex testing and increase its composites testing capacity from 100kN to 250kN.

R-TECH are the first UK client to acquire the latest Zwick testXpert III control software package which includes the complete range of modules, including tensile, compression, flexure, tear growth, adhesion, peel and cyclic testing. Embedded programs meet the requirements of more than 600 standard tests, and can be customized for bespoke requirements.

As well as being able to test any type of sample; be it tensile, compression, flexure or shear at loads from 1N to 250kN, the Zwick machine, which has been equipped with thermal chambers from Severn Thermal Solutions, can perform tests in the temperature range  -70°C to 250°C.  R-TECH can also carry out liquid, humidity or temperature pre-conditioning of samples, which is essential for the aerospace sector. The new investment also includes the latest Zwick biaxial extensometer for aerospace class testing.

Dr Geraint Harvard, R-TECH’s Composite Manager, said: “We are delighted with our new Zwick machine, which has not only improved our testing capability but also increased our capacity. Our investment in state-of-the-art equipment and the development of our team of highly qualified engineers, materials scientists, and chemists has helped us forge our reputation as one of the UK’s fastest growing  composites testing laboratories.

R-TECH’s investment in the Zwick machine is another example of how the business has invested heavily in its composite capabilities over recent years. Other purchases include a 10kN Zwick universal testing machine and a 100kN fatigue machine, along with a Hirox digital microscope and Zeiss Scanning Electron Microscope with EDX micro-analysis for failure investigation and materials characterisation.

The R-TECH Materials group provides materials testing, characterization and consultancy services on a wide range of engineering materials and applications. Operating predominantly in the aerospace, marine and automotive sectors, the Composites Department tests the mechanical, thermal and chemical properties of non-metallic materials, components and products- including plastics and fibre reinforced composites- for material approval and characterization, quality control and research and development. R-TECH’s combination of testing, characterization and interpretation expertise can also be applied to problem solving, such as product or processing problems or materials failure investigation.

R-TECH is accredited by UKAS to perform testing to ISO and ASTM standards under controlled temperature and humidity conditions. Standard tests include lap shear, in-plane shear, climbing drum peel, shore hardness, compression of core materials and shear properties of sandwich panels. As well as a full suite of static testing, fatigue testing (in tension or in bending) at loads of up to 100kN can also be delivered.  

R-TECH also offers its customers bespoke testing thanks to its combination of state-of-the-art biaxial extensometry with strain gauging capabilities and in-house workshop facilities, which means it can design and manufacture rigs to adapt its test equipment to clients’ requirements.  Furthermore, R-TECH’s skilled technical staff can prepare laminates and machine samples in-house as instructed.

R-TECH’s reputation for the accuracy and quality of its testing has been recognized by UKAS which recently awarded R-TECH accreditation for 13 new test standards.  The company is also adding further testing standards in 2017 as well as aiming for approval from the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (Nadcap).



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