News at PTLI
Press Releases |
Plastics testing services expand online
Plastics testing services expand online
- Pittsfield, MA
By: Carl Kirkland
As seen in Injection Molding
“What the [expletive deleted] kind of resin is this? Is it contaminated?
How the [expletive deleted] do I find out?” Why, with Fourier Transform
Infrared analysis, or FTIR, of course. “Four-e-air? What the [expletive
deleted] is FTIR?”
Analytical, rheological, thermal/flammability, mechanical/physical,
optical, electrical—you name the materials test, PTLI does it. Its
main lab is temperature and humidity controlled.
Thousands of frequently asked questions like these from frustrated molders,
materials suppliers, and part designers are answered every day in real time,
absolutely free, at www.ptli.com. That website belongs to Plastics Technology
Laboratories Inc. (PTLI, Pittsfield, MA), a premier supplier of a full range of
testing services. PTLI is exclusively dedicated to serving markets using
plastics, composites, and elastomers.
Its ample online resources include PTLI’s easy-to use “Testlopedia,”
which provides descriptions of all major plastics test methods in plain English.
There are technical articles online so you can learn more about plastics
properties and testing. And there are links to resin manufacturers and other
resources, plus e-mail links to PTLI for questions and quotes.
Offline, PTLI has the resources to perform everything from ash content to
yellowness index testing. The tests usually cost between $105 and $175.
Turnaround times range from less than 10 days to less than 48 hours. Its test
experts know all the proper procedures. As a matter of fact, PTLI often helps
ASTM and ISO write them.
James J. Beauregard, president, and his wife Margaret E. Beauregard, VP,
started PTLI in 1986. Today, ISO 9002-certified and A2LA ISO 17025-accredited,
PTLI’s business is booming. It’s actively expanding its resources to keep
up, both in Pittsfield and in cyberspace.
PTLI’s Carl Olson (foreground) and James Galipeau demonstrate one of
the company’s four new Xenon-arc accelerated weatherometers.
Cashing in on Change
R. James Galipeau, laboratory manager, was the Beauregards’ first hire.
Galipeau says starting PTLI was the right idea at the right time. One reason why
is that the materials suppliers actively began outsourcing their in-house
testing capacity in the mid to late 1980s. Today, practically all of it is
jobbed out to independent labs, like PTLI.
Jim Galipeau believes this trend owes a lot to what he calls his “ladder
theory.” From their perch up high on the ladder, materials suppliers have to
keep their eye on big-picture issues, like expansion of their business in China
and India. It’s more economical for them to farm out lower-rung activities,
At the same time, he says that the growing use of engineering thermoplastics
over the years has transformed them into the new commodities. Fewer brand-new
types of resins have hit the market in recent times. To reduce the cost of
materials and improve their value, many molders have been blending their own
formulations, or multimolding various combinations. More molders also are being
called on to design parts for their customers, which may involve recommending
the best material for the job.
Extensive use is made of computer-networked instrumentation. This
microscope is capable of e-mailing photos of what it spots—the good,
the bad, and the tiny.
Meanwhile, Galipeau says the level of testing itself has evolved into an
entirely new area. It’s much more exacting today. For example, more attention
is now being paid to how one property affects another, such has how hardness
affects flexibility in a TPE.
At the same time, time-to-market pressures have intensified. A mistake could
cost millions of dollars in a material approval for an automotive PPAP
(production part approval process). And, as mentioned, business is global. Test
results and answers to technical questions have to be delivered worldwide just
in time or sooner.
Many materials suppliers and molders are finding it too expensive to keep up
with the price of change required to run a modern testing and research center,
Galipeau says. That’s why PTLI’s business is booming.
Beauregard says PTLI has invested millions into equipping its two-story,
17,000-sq-ft facility in Pittsfield with the best computer-networked materials
testing instrumentation the world has to offer.
Its capital equipment investments continue. In March, for instance, PTLI
installed a sophisticated Xenon-arc accelerating weathering station. Since
March, three more stations have been added.
Beauregard also has expanded PTLI’s human resources. Carl Olson, formerly
of GE Plastics and moldmaker/custom molder Hi-Tech Mold & Tool Inc. (both of
Pittsfield, MA), is now PTLI’s sales and marketing manager. In addition to his
materials background, Olson is fluent in “molder-ese,” an important asset
for PTLI because molding is its biggest market.
In addition, PTLI’s free online services are being expanded. It has
recently launched PTLI Neighborhood on its website. It is a new data retrieval
and storage system. Absolutely secure and confidential, users will be able to
search and download all of their previous test data by project number or