Standardization News

Standards Provide a Foundation for Reliable Test Results

ZwickRoell is one of the world’s leading suppliers of materials testing machines and has been a pioneer in innovative materials and components testing for more than 160 years. With headquarters in Germany and 14 subsidiaries around the world, the ZwickRoell Group has over 1,600 employees and partners with service organizations in 56 countries. ZwickRoell testing machines are used in research and development and quality assurance in more than 20 industries, from metals and automotive to medical and plastics.

The North American subsidiary of the ZwickRoell Group provides state-of-the-art systems that run on our proprietary software. We offer standard test programs and master test programs that test to well over 1,000 ASTM International standards relevant to the mechanical properties of materials. We also offer calibration of systems to ASTM standards for force, displacement verification, speed, pendulum impact testing, extrusion, extensometers, and field alignment of materials. 

Participation in ASTM committees is critical to serving our customers in North America and beyond. Currently, our employees sit on committees that address topics on specific materials for calibration and accreditation of our instruments. Our employees have served on ASTM committees as officers and actively work to update standards to be in sync with the latest technologies. By becoming involved in the standards process, the ZwickRoell Group can stay abreast of the latest applications and materials entering the market while ensuring the compatibility of testing products. 

ZwickRoell actively pursues the latest technologies, including those used in the additive manufacturing industry. In this rapidly changing industry, standardization of testing is critical for suppliers and consumers alike. However, new processes lead to questions about how these parts can be produced and tested in a controlled way. As members of ASTM International, ZwickRoell can participate in these discussions and offer potential solutions regarding mechanical testing. 

The trend in materials testing today is automation, with ASTM standards serving as the basis of quality control. Many testing lab managers ask if the benefits of equipping their labs with automated systems outweigh the costs. From an ROI (return on investment) standpoint, an automated system typically pays for itself within two to three years. Other advantages are tangible in terms of the reliability of test results. These systems test according to ASTM standards to ensure compliance with the demanding requirements placed on materials suppliers today. Clear and concise ASTM standards ensure that a test is repeatable. The combination of robust standards and automation ensure reliable results for any company. 

Whether running highly standardized tests or designing completely custom solutions, ZwickRoell approaches each challenge with the same motivation: to achieve the most reliable results possible. With ZwickRoell automated solutions, operator influence is minimized. Specimens awaiting testing are manually placed in magazines, but the process is automated from that point  onward, right up to sorting the specimen remains for inspection if required. Automation also allows companies to free up employees for other, more complicated tasks.

ZwickRoell’s roboTest series has been developed to run automated tests in accordance with ASTM International standards. One example is the roboTest L for automated tensile and flexure tests of metals and plastics testing to ASTM’s test methods for tension testing of metallic materials (E8) and for flexural properties of unreinforced and reinforced plastics and electrical insulating materials (D790), respectively. With a magazine that can hold up to 600 specimens at a time, a robotic arm feeds the testing machine so that operator influences (hand temperature/moisture, off-center or angular specimen insertion) are eliminated for optimal test result reproducibility. 

Another example is roboTest H for impact, which tests to ASTM International’s methods for determining the Izod pendulum impact resistance of plastics (D256). The test determines the resistance of cooled plastic specimens with a milled notch to standardized pendulum-type hammers at ambient temperature. By mounting a temperature-conditioning magazine on the robotic testing system, the impact test is performed within five seconds of removing the specimen from the temperature-conditioning magazine.

The latest addition to ZwickRoell’s line of automated systems is the roboTest N. These robots are an automation system for pick-and-place applications. The roboTest N is a smart, lightweight robot with a small footprint and integrated safety features. The integration of the robot into the ZwickRoell software environment means programming knowledge is not required for operation. This system is also flexible and can be adapted to future testing requirements. The applications for this robot are vast, including simple flex and tensile applications. An ideal application is component testing, such as injector pens or syringes in the medical industry. 

Not only can actual tests be performed without employee intervention, but it is also possible to create a fully autonomous lab. ZwickRoell builds automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and additional handling robots that are coordinated with autoEdition 3, ZwickRoell’s modular software platform for automation requirements. AGVs run 24 hours per day to facilitate materials testing autonomously, from placement of the specimens onto a transport belt to the disposal of the destroyed specimen, with specimen production and preparation as the only tasks left to do.

ZwickRoell has many options for automated testing. Whatever the material and application, we are confident in our ability to build an automated system to the specifications of the customer. Our systems range from testing small batches of tensile samples to multi-axis robotic systems that perform multiple tests including tensile, flexure, impact, and hardness. 

ZwickRoell is proud to be a contributing member of ASTM International. Standards and their continued development are critical to the health and safety of our community. As producers of testing machines, ZwickRoell is a reliable partner that customers can depend on for materials testing now and in the future. ■

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