k-labor GmbH – a specialist in material analysis and characterisation
k-labor GmbH focuses on the initial inspection of samples for the automotive industry and the testing of a broad range of different materials. k-labor also specialises in environmental simulations and durability testing, and offers consulting and the transfer of technologies in the plastics sector.
The testing of the quality of new materials or new components is absolutely necessary for product development. Companies who need to assess the purity of a material or discover product errors require expert knowledge. k-labor GmbH is a material testing laboratory that has the know-how. k-labor GmbH is a service company that emerged from a Kodak testing laboratory in 2003, which offers the quality testing of metals, non-metals, plastics and elastomers, environmental simulations and expert knowledge in material engineering. “We not only focus on materials testing, we are also able to provide effective assistance in the development and application of a certain material from start to finish,” said Heinz A. Kellner, founder and managing director of the company. In addition to offering services related to testing the quality of materials, k-labor puts its knowledge and technology transfer services to good use in issues related to product design, development and manufacturing methods, environmental protection, recycling and disposal. “The laboratory is designed such that we can offer a broad range of equipment and we only hire highly skilled people,” said Kellner.
Does the material withstand extreme climatic conditions?
The company has outstanding competence in the area of environmental simulations where it tests the interactions of a specific material with the environment in order to glean information on the material’s durability and function under specific environmental conditions as well as on the effect a material has on the environment. k-labor simulates climatic conditions and tests whether specific conditions interfere with the function of a component tested. Standard tests include tests that assess the ability of a material to withstand low (-40°) and high temperatures (+1250°C) as well as climate change tests. Among the services offered are tests that assess the corrosion resistance and durability of materials. k-labor has developed a proprietary method to assess the resistance of materials to lubricants, fats, oils, chemicals and other compounds. The advantage of this method is that any material can be specifically tested according to customer requirements.
“This is one of our strengths,” said Heinz Kellner who has been working in this area since being employed by Kodak. Kellner’s work led to the inclusion of specific dioxin and furane threshold limits in the 1996 Chemicals Prohibition Ordinance. It therefore comes as no surprise that k-labor also offers tests according to the 2002/95/EC directive that restricts the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.
The aforementioned climate change tests are also part of initial sample inspections for the automotive sector. Suppliers of car parts need to show that their product conforms with the customer’s quality requirements. k-labor can either tailor tests to specific products or carry out tests according to valid DIN and factory standards.
In addition to the quality testing of metals, non-metals and elastomers, k-labor is also well known for its specialist knowledge in the field of plastics. The company has a great deal of experience in automotive engineering, aerospace, medical technology, household devices, electrotechnology and mechanical engineering. Its collaboration with component partners provides k-labor with access to a broad range of testing technologies. The laboratory takes part in national and international ring trials, which shows that the company’s analyses are carried out with state-of-the-art measurement techniques.
Looking for causes
k-labor carries out damage analyses in order to identify the cause of damage. “Damage analysis initially centres on finding out whether the product under investigation consists of the proper material,” said Kellner. “This is frequently not the case.” The company’s engineers have numerous analytical methods, including FR-IR spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry, at their disposal to characterise plastics, elastomers, duromers, organic compounds, lubricants, resins, adhesives and varnish. The engineers test the properties (e.g. solidity) of a material by way of mechanical-technological tests such as elasticity modules, elastic limits and stretching.
“The most sophisticated methods we use when assessing a fracture is scanning electron microscopy and EDX analysis,” said Heinz Kellner highlighting that damage analyses come with a detailed description of the primary cause of damage, an indication of methods that can be used to help prevent such damage and suggestions as to how the client can modify and optimise the process used to manufacture the product under investigation. k-labor has already analysed bioplastics and Kellner is able to confirm that all bioplastics tested so far (cellulose derivatives, maize and potato starch, polylactic acid) are excellently suited for application in packaging and food protection.