Aerospace materials testing could have medical-grade digital traceability through ZwickRoell
Comprehensive documentation of the mechanical features, including the load cell and test fixtures used, was created for this machine in ZwickRoell's Materials Testing Laboratory, which was used to test auto-injection pens. With this documentation and a checklist in accordance with the customer's requirements, the qualification was conducted followed by a successful measurement system analysis which surpassed specifications.

The documentation together with the test results, make it possible for third parties to reproduce who did what and when with the testing machine. (Image source: ZwickRoell)

 

Aerospace materials testing could have medical-grade digital traceability through ZwickRoell

ZwickRoell’s materials testing machines serve multiple industries and lend to cross-industry innovation.
The future of the aerospace industry relies on innovative materials to improve aircraft performance, weight, and strength. Beyond the materials innovation, proper and thorough testing must to occur to assure that new materials can withstand the rigor of operational use over a long life in varied environments. The Zwick Roell Group (ZwickRoell) – a global supplier of materials testing machines based in Ulm, Germany – is constantly developing and upgrading its range of industry-agnostic products and solutions to bring scientific test methods to the production floor.

For ZwickRoell, it is most visible in its medical equipment materials testing system. Process validation in the medical engineering and pharmaceutical industries involves technical review of individual medical devices with extremely high demands placed on quality assurance of the materials testing systems themselves. ZwickRoell calls it design qualification (DQ), installation qualification (IQ), and operational qualification (OQ), but aerospace engineers might call it the “digital thread.”


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“The medical industry is really tough on traceability, and many standards describe how important it is to know where your data comes from, right back to the [specific test] machine and the sensors on the machine, so you know how that result was determined,” explains David Phillips, vice president of corporate marketing at ZwickRoell, at the company’s annual testXpo exhibition.

“Everything needs to be traceable. Do you know if the test speed of the machine was changed between test 1 and 1,000? With our system, if an operator makes a change, it’s date and time stamped, so you can see right back to when this change occurred. We also think this is very important to industry sectors like aerospace,” Phillips continues.

For materials testing, traceability and comparability beget repeatability and reliability. One of ZwickRoell’s main focuses is to bring the level of materials testing that occurs on production floors -- where tests that occur in different locations on different testing machines operated by different individuals -- up to a scientific standard.

“Round robin” test cycles can verify and enhance testing accuracy on aerospace materials through independent scientific analysis.


A partially modernized ZwickRoell machine gives a side-by-side comparison of the updated drive system, sensors, and control unit. (Image source: ZwickRoell)

ZwickRoell doesn’t limit its digitally connected approach to its latest testing machines. ZwickRoell’s materials testing machines are modular in almost every aspect, including measurement and control electronics, testing software, and contact and non-contact optical sensors.

While modernizing thousands of its own testing systems, ZwickRoell has gained extensive experience in manufacturer-independent modernization. The company has updated testing systems from more than 40 different manufacturers with state-of-the-art equipment using modern ZwickRoell measurement and control electronics, drive technology, and testing software. The older testing machines are comparable with new machines from a technological standpoint, and machine availability and digital traceability can be increased significantly, officials say. 

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
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