Testing laboratories

Environmental testing, ageing of materials, thermal analysis

Tests in the climate chamber at increased humidity

A climate chamber is an enclosed space in which it is possible to investigate the effects of specific climatic conditions on any test object, whether it is a general industrial product, its parts, the materials themselves that will be used in its production, electronic circuits or even biological material. With the help of the climate chamber, it is possible to artificially mimic the conditions to which the test objects could be exposed during their period of use in practice. During testing using climate chambers, it is possible to take advantage of sharp changes in climatic conditions, even those that would not be observed under the actual use of the test object.

Environmental cyclical tests in climate chambers (PV 1200, PV 2005)

PV 1200: This test standard describes a cyclical climate change test (hot/cold cycle) for the test of aggregates such as vehicle parts in the engine compartment. In doing so, the behaviour of aggregates or parts under load due to temperature change by means of a change in temperature and humidity (e.g. susceptibility to cracking, deformation, loosening of binding) should be assessed. These tests serve to detect structural component weaknesses in a short test through accelerated action.

Ageing at elevated temperature

The ageing of polymeric materials can be analysed using accelerated ageing methods by storing samples at different temperatures in furnaces. Appropriate test samples are taken from the kilns at the specified time intervals necessary for testing. The reduction in material properties is used to measure ageing behaviour. Typical test methods for determining these changes are mechanical, electrical and surface tests, and also optical evaluation.

Thermal properties (DSC, Vicat softening temperature, deflection temperature)

DSC is used to measure thermal influences, investigate thermal processes and describe, identify or compare materials. The DSC procedure can determine thermal capacities and enthalpic changes (heat flow) for phase transitions as a function of temperature or time.


Determination of softening temperature according to Vicat (VST). The purpose of the test is to determine at what temperature there is a noticeable softening of the material. Vicat heat resistance is the temperature expressed in °C (Vicat Softening Temperature) at which a standard 1 mm2 circular gauge needle is pushed into the surface of the test body by 1 mm under the prescribed conditions. Due to the experimental arrangement, this test is suitable for plastics which are not reinforced with material which could prevent the needle from entering the sample (e.g. textiles, fibres...).

Simulation of sunlight

When plastics are exposed to weathering, especially UV-sunlight, in most of them there are irreversible chemical changes in the structure of the matrix, which as a result leads to deterioration, including complete loss of performance. In practice, different methods of ageing are used to obtain information on how the polymer will behave when exposure to sunlight. The most likely test is direct exposure under real conditions. Accelerated tests that simulate external conditions on a laboratory scale are carried out with instruments mimicking the UV component of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface (295-400 nm), which is most involved in the degradation of polymers, especially polyolefins. For the accelerated ageing of polymers, different types of devices are used, which differ mainly in the nature of the light source and technical equipment.

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