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Testing & Analysis

PPE offers an extensive range of independent testing and consultancy services for companies and organizations which are looking for assistance in investigating polymeric materials.

Materials technology is at the core of the business within PPE Ltd. Our purpose-built facilities (located in the UK and Houston Texas), include a state-of-the-art laboratory and development cell and both offer a comprehensive range of services for the development, characterization, testing and analysis of polymeric materials.

Key testing capabilities

  • Chemical Compatibility
  • Failure analysis
  • Microscopy
  • Thermo-mechanical Evaluation
  • Physical property determination
  • Explosive Decompression / Rapid Gas Decompression (RGD)

The development cell possesses a wide range of equipment dedicated to the development of manufacturing processes for new and novel materials. The cell has a dedicated development press and utilizes a number of different post-cure regimes (inert atmosphere and conventional ovens).  As new materials and designs are developed, processing characteristics are fully understood before full manufacturing commences.  

With the PPE laboratories at your disposal, we offer a complete consultancy service including; expert polymer chemists, seal design engineering, advice and assistance in material selection, material testing, sample analysis and problem-solving on any sealing matter.

How can we help? Contact us to discuss your testing requirements.

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Elastomer & polymer testing capabilities

Chemical compatibility
Seal materials are often used in unique combinations of fluids over a wide variety of temperatures. Test facilities at PPE allow chemical compatibility trials to be performed to address specific customer needs. Changes in physical properties for various materials can be examined and determination of the best polymer material for the chemical environments.

Failure Analysis 
A seal that has failed in an application is analyzed using various techniques to identify the root cause and mode of failure. This often includes differentiating between thermal and chemical degradation and investigating other possible causes - such as mechanical failure, environmental stress, premature ageing, contaminants/inclusions and poor design. PPE provides assistance in recommending alternative designs or materials.

Thermo-mechanical Evaluation 
Using environmental chambers to test the physical properties of materials at actual or elevated operating temperature provides accurate results which are much more representative of actual applications.  The data is then used in Finite Element Analysis (FEA) computer modeling to create accurate simulations of seal designs.

Thermal Analysis:

Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC)
DSC analysis depends upon comparing the exothermic and endothermic reactions of samples and a reference, as the sample and reference are heated through a defined heating regime. The technique enables the accurate determination of glass transition temperatures, crystallization and melting points and in the case of elastomers, cure characteristics.
This technique is valuable for failure analysis, compound development and determining the low temperature performance of a sealing material.

Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA) 
TGA analysis depends upon the accurate weighing of a sample as it is heated, from – typically -25°C to 800°C. As the heating progresses, different components of the elastomer formulation ‘burn off’ thereby reducing the weight. A step-like pattern emerges which correlates quantitatively with the components of the formulation.
This technique is valuable for compound development, reverse-engineering, process control and failure analysis.

Infra-red Spectroscopy (FTIR) 
FTIR involves passing an infra-red light through or impinging on a sample of material. The light gives up some of its energy, causing various molecular structures in the sample to vibrate, twist or stretch. The resultant light is then compared with a reference light stream and the result is represented as a characteristic plot of peaks.
This technique is helpful in ‘fingerprinting’ materials, failure analysis and compound development.


Explosive Decompression ED Testing

Explosive decompression (ED) damage of elastomer seals occurs when seals are under high pressure for some time and then rapidly de-pressurized.  Gases absorbed into the elastomer rapidly expand causing the seal to rupture.

PPE’s advanced ED testing equipment can pressurize seals of various geometries up to 20,000 psi (13.8 MPa)and can decompress over any desired cycle or time, whilst at a temperature of up to 250°C (482°F). Using this equipment, compounds can be developed and tested to overcome this condition, with pressure, temperature and pressure release cycles simulating actual field operation, confirming the performance of seal types and grades before installation.

With a 3L cylinder, the ED test rig has been designed to meet Total, NACE and NORSOK test requirements with all temperatures, pressures, gas mixtures and depressurization rates detailed there-in.  The O-ring carrier insert is interchangeable to allow O-rings to be tested at various squeeze levels, in face and piston geometries. This equipment also tests high-pressure sealing capability v’s diametral clearance and back-up ring performance.

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