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The mettle to test metal

16 Sep 2011

Laboratory Testing Inc. (LTI) is an accredited, independent testing service and calibration company located in Pennsylvania, USA. LTI provides accurate, affordable materials testing and nondestructive testing services to a large cross section of international industrial components manufacturers.

Phil Trach (NDT Technology Coordinator) and his team at LTI use a range of equipment, including 5 PowerLab data acquisition systems for used for immersion ultrasonic testing and certifying materials to specific industry quality standards. Below on the right, one of LTI's testing stations is pictured, showing equipment, LabChart software, and materials to be tested.

"One of the features that initially attracted me to the PowerLab was the ability to insert comments during data acquisition. Being able to enter them with a single keystroke (using the Preset Comments feature) has been very useful to our technicians.  This allows them to make notations on the chart for each piece number, for when rejected material is found, or when there's something unusual about the test at a particular moment."

Phil Trach
NDT Technology Coordinator, Laboratory Testing Inc.

Why PowerLab?

LTI uses ultrasound probes to detect very small imperfections on the surface of specialized metal piping. The calibration standard is key to this testing process. The calibration standard is a pipe featuring several precisely machined notches - these notches simulate defects. Any indication from the test material which exceeds the response from the calibration standard is rejected. Additionally, wall thickness measurements are routinely performed to an accuracy of 0.001 inch.

Traditionally, thermal printers produced a printed record of the material's flaws, while hardwired alarms and other audio/visual cues provided instant feedback for those conducting ultrasound tests. In 2009, the company upgraded to PowerLab systems with LabChart Pro software to reduce the maintenance and storage expenses associated with thermal printers.

Within only 3 years, LTI has increased its testing battalion to five PowerLab units with LabChart Pro software. Each system records up to six channels of data per pipe, testing pipes anywhere from 1/8" to 6 1/2" in diameter and delivering 3000 pulses per second per channel. Because PowerLab and LabChart are more than well equipped to deal with this extraordinarily high-capacity data acquisition and storage, Mr. Trach "wouldn't have it any other way".

LabInc Error

LabChart data supplied by Laboratory Testing Inc. Right pane: shows test material in a region with defects - row highlighted in red. Left pane: LabChart Chart View, defects highlighted in red.

Digital results distribution

Test data is now stored on hard drives instead of in filing cabinets, so can be supplied to customers in digital format. LTI feels better retaining their original test data and providing customers with their own digital copy, instead of letting go of an irreplaceable paper chart. The LTI customers also love receiving data on a DVD (rather than as a stack of thermal paper), as they can view and perform limited analyses of their testing data at any time with the free LabChart Reader.

By Matthew Goddard

Science Manager

Researcher, Dad and motorbike racer.