Material testing and qualification is very important in all industries, especially health and safety. Making sure your materials have the proper certifications is essential for creating great products, so it pays to confirm that you meet those requirements.
That’s where independent labs come in. When partnered with custom cut solutions teams like Mueller, they can guarantee that materials meet whatever requirements your industry demands.
In this guide, Mueller’s material experts will explain what independent labs are and how they work with custom cuts teams, as well as describing their benefits and how Mueller uses them to your advantage.
What are Independent Labs (& How Do They Work with Custom Solutions Teams)?
Raw material manufacturers produce and test the materials that they create, while independent labs solely test materials.
Working with independent labs is simple: We send them the test standard(s) that we want materials tested for, they tell us how to send the material (different tests might require different dimensions), and they carry out the appropriate test before returning the results to us.
To be a certified lab, you need to be accredited with either ANAB or A2LA certifications. These organizations monitor the independent labs to make sure they are testing materials correctly and not fabricating the certifications or results.
Independent labs are used in cases where customers want to be sure that a material meets certain specifications. Customers send information on what specifications their device needs to meet and converters like Mueller use the data sheets from raw material manufacturers to quote the material. Customers ask to use an independent lab to verify these points in case a raw material manufacturer is fabricating information to sell their product.
Customers are looking for assurance.
What Kinds of Testing Do Independent Labs Handle?
Independent labs are capable of conducting almost any type of material test, including:
- Low volatile organic compound (VOC)
- Acoustic absorption
- Adhesive strength
- Prop 65
- Coefficient of friction (COF)
- Elevated temperature
These tests are applicable in all industries, but some are especially important for the medical market. One of the most prominent (and essential) tests is for flammability, specifically for UL standards UL94HF1 and UL94V0.
Healthcare companies also need to test for Prop 65 compliance, which ensures that there are no cancer-causing or hazardous materials used in a product. Raw material suppliers might not have that data, but many customers in the medical industry require it.
Health and safety businesses also pay attention to elevated temperature testing, which ensures materials can withstand the sterilization process. This process is essential for any materials used in surgical procedures.
What Benefits Do Independent Labs Offer?
As we mentioned earlier, customers like assurance when it comes to their materials. Independent lab testing assures them that converters offer materials that meet or exceed the specifications they require. Independent labs go above and beyond typical data sheets.
Independent labs also serve as an unbiased third party when it comes to inspection. This eliminates any potential conflicts of interest that are present when using material supplier specification sheets.
Independent lab testing also saves time for customers. They can get their product into the field quicker when independent labs handle the testing instead of doing it themselves.
Does Mueller Partner with Independent Labs?
You might assume that many custom cut businesses partner with independent labs due to all the benefits they offer. Surprisingly, very few custom solutions teams work with independent labs for testing. Often, the custom solutions teams send the data sheets from their supplier to the customer and have them do any additional testing themselves.
Mueller is different in this regard. We are proud to partner with independent labs to provide our customers with the extra value they offer. We often work with SGS labs, a worldwide inspection company that we’ve developed a relationship with. This partnership saves customers from conducting extra testing themselves, providing a differentiated experience from other converters.
Why Partner with a Custom Cut Team That Works with Independent Labs?
Raw material suppliers always test their work to ensure they meet the specifications their customers require, but in many cases it’s worth going the extra mile. Partnering with a team like Mueller that utilizes independent labs will result in materials that always meet your needs.
Use the information in this guide about independent labs and how they can benefit your business to revamp your supply chain and ensure qualified materials. If you want to work with a business that offers these capabilities, reach out to our team of experts today.