Element’s accredited testing and certification services: delivering a safer world test 10
Technology is developing rapidly the world over. The aerospace industry in particular is seeing technology continually evolve in terms of functional design, choice of power source and materials. It is these, amongst other factors, which impact the safety and performance of products that Element tests and certifies to international standards.
When doing business in a global marketplace, it is essential that companies are accredited to test materials or certify products to these international standards. Element maintains an extensive range of client and regulatory approvals and accreditations to ensure product safety and integrity, providing our customers with confidence and trust.
At Element we recognize that aerospace safety is of critical importance. Our team of engaged experts are encouraged to innovate in our testing and certification procedures, supporting customers as they embrace advancements in engineering technology, while still ensuring product safety.
3D printing is still a relatively new process in the aerospace industry. It is a rapid prototyping tool, enabling complex parts to be designed and manufactured as complete units. Recently, this manufacturing method has been used as an alternative to traditional moulding or extruding manufacturing processes. This broadening scope of use, combined with the cost reduction of 3D printing equipment, has led to this method becoming an increasingly accessible option for manufacturers.
The technology has many advantages. However, the use of plastics materials in this new process can negatively impact the critical properties of end products, such as mechanical strength or flammability resistance. It is therefore imperative that standards and test methods are adapted to keep pace with the demand for 3D printing, verifying that products continue to perform to the expected standard.
At Element we have enhanced our non-destructive testing (NDT) capability to ensure the structural integrity and product safety of 3D manufactured components. Our laboratories in Europe and the USA employ digital radiography to verify that complex parts and assemblies are free from even the smallest of defects which might result in the failure of an aircraft component, with potentially significant consequences. With excellent image quality and the ability to share images between our team of global experts, our customers can be assured of the safety of their products.
The aerospace industry has also experienced the introduction of increasingly complex personal devices such as phones and tablets. These can have an impact on the electromagnetic spectrum, potentially causing unwanted electromagnetic interference or degraded radio communications. For example, complex control electronics used in the sector can be sensitive to electromagnetic interference with calamitous consequences. The main cause of interference is personal phones and other mobile devices which we have all become accustomed to using at our leisure. Testing standards and methods for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and radio performance have been developed to detect and counter any negative effects on equipment or radio communications. Most of the EMC standards currently in place have global application as products are standardized, but radio spectrum protection can be subject to considerable local variation.
New standards that support the electromagnetic performance or safety of materials and products are continually being developed for use by the industry. Testing laboratories have had to adapt to these new standards and develop practical test methods unique to their customers. To prevent inconsistencies, a highly developed and industry-wide laboratory accreditation system has been established. This ensures that test methods are correctly applied and that results generated from accredited testing are robust and reliable. Our network of facilities enable Element to provide testing and certification services to an international client base, fulfilling EMC regulations, domestically and internationally.
Product qualification and in particular, testing of fuel lines to ensure they can withstand extreme conditions, is another crucial safety measure in the aerospace industry. In 2008, a Boeing 777 flying from Beijing to London crashed just short of the runway on descent due to ice crystals having formed in the fuel line. Fortunately there were no casualties, however this was a significant incident and the first serious accident in the aircraft model’s history. The fuel line testing performed at Element requires entire assemblies to be cycled through the simulation of extreme conditions, such as ice in fuel or introducing fire in an engine. This enables the performance of the system as a whole to be evaluated under test, rather than testing each component part. This is a very important aspect in the successful development of an aircraft.
Element performs these assessments with extensive experience and first-hand understanding of how the systems should perform. Members of Element’s technical team work with other organizations to assist in writing new standards for fuel line testing and product qualification, playing a significant role in establishing regulations that will have a global impact and, more importantly, ensuring safe air travel.
Research and development teams will never stop developing new technologies, so companies like Element will always have to create new methods of ensuring the safety of products people use each and every day. From the machine that brews your morning coffee, the car you drive to work to the aircraft you take for your vacation – everything needs to be tested or certified. With Element’s unique service offering to the aerospace industry, we are able to ensure that our customers’ products are safe, quality compliant and fit for purpose – always.