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R-TECH Materials is celebrating its tenth year of testing composites for the marine industry.
The Port Talbot, Wales-based laboratory has worked with several key players in the marine industry including Lloyd’s Register, which appointed R-TECH Materials as its exclusive global laboratory in 2012 to test composite samples, components and products to ensure they are suitable for a life at sea. R-TECH Materials has conducted over 100 tests for Lloyd’s Register, including failure analysis on corroded water systems from a super yacht, a liquid gas pipework and a swing arm from a jetty.
Being inherently light and damage resistant, composite materials have been used for several decades to manufacture all manner of marine vessels, from the hulls of super yachts to top side structures for large ships. There has also been a growing use of composites on military ships, such as the French La Fayette Frigate and the Swedish Visby-class corvette stealth ship. By running a variety of laboratory tests, R-TECH Materials’ 22-strong team of engineers, materials scientists and chemists can characterise the composite material, check if it’s fit for market, identify quality issues, solve processing problems and determine why a product has failed. They can perform reverse engineering – revealing how, and from what, a material has been made. R-TECH Materials can also manufacture hand lay-up laminates using the same methods as traditional boat builders to ensure authentic results.
“We’re delighted to be celebrating our tenth year testing materials for the marine industry, six of which have been with Lloyd’s Register as their global laboratory, collaborating with them on common research themes,” states Dr Geraint Havard, R-TECH Material’s Composites Manager. “Over this time we’ve developed a particular specialism in the independent testing of polymers and composites and our rigorous tests – which determine mechanical, thermal and chemical properties – help our clients fully understand the materials, components and products they are producing and how they will behave in a marine environment.”
“Lloyd’s Register has a long-standing reputation for integrity, impartiality and technical excellence,” explains Mayur Jogia from Lloyd’s Register. “Our compliance, risk and technical consultancy services give clients confidence that their assets and businesses are safe, sustainable and dependable. Safety is at the core of our business and this is of paramount importance in the classification of marine and offshore structures. Materials used in fabrication of structures built to Lloyd’s Register class must be approved by Lloyd’s Register. This is essentially a two-part process consisting of a surveyor audit of the site where the materials are manufactured and approval testing of the material in accordance with our rule requirements. One of the options offered to clients is approval testing to be coordinated by Lloyd’s Register in the UK. Six years ago we started working with R-TECH Materials to provide one-stop approval testing of laminating resin, gelcoat resin, fibre reinforcements. This successful relationship has now been extended to offer client approval testing of chocking resin, not only for Lloyd’s Register material certification, but also for EU RO Mutual Recognition certification.”
R-TECH Materials also works with aerospace and automotive sectors testing the mechanical, thermal and chemical properties of non-metallic materials, components and products. Its composites testing laboratories include a Zwick universal testing machine which operates in a temperature range of -70°C to 250°C, as well as a Hirox digital microscope and Zeiss Scanning Electron Microscope. Testing is carried out to ISO and ASTM standards under controlled temperature and humidity conditions, all accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Authority (UKAS).
This year R-TECH Materials is on track to secure aerospace approval from the National Aerospace and Defence Contractors Accreditation Programme (Nadcap) and it has also teamed up with Zwick Roell to run a second round of its training course on mechanical testing of composites in April.
Image provided by R-TECH Materials
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