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Although relatively unfamiliar to the general public, metallurgy is a very important branch of science. The multidisciplinary science involves the preparation, testing and analysis of the physical and chemical properties of metallic elements and their alloys and is incredibly important in ensuring safety and quality of the manufacture of everyday objects.
When designing a metallurgical laboratory, there are a number of important things to consider; the placement of equipment, storage of samples and how to maximise workflow efficiency. In this article we’ll look at some of the key aspects in designing a metallurgical lab.
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Metallurgical laboratories have to accommodate for a team of skilled industrial engineers, technicians and scientists who support clients from the aerospace, automotive, insurance, medical, and construction industries.
Metallurgical labs contain high tech equipment to perform important tests. Some of these tests include: failure testing, corrosion testing, chemical analysis, fatigue testing, metallography, and weld testing. The highly specialised laboratory design equipment used for testing requires specific training in order to operate properly. Many industrial facilities include some kind of training facility for new staff members to develop their skills.
The three main processes that are carried out in a metallurgical lab need to function in cohesion to enable samples to be processed with the maximum efficiency. For each of the processes, consider the following points.
Cutting – The separation of the specimen from the work piece is usually the first step a metallurgical lab has to undertake. Think about the position of cutting machines in relation to where the samples are coming in.Another factor that is worth bearing in mind for all of these stages is heavy equipment that can have an impact on the benching over time. Check weight limits and structural certifications of any furniture you consider.
Mounting – The purpose of the second step is to protect fragile or coated materials during preparation and to obtain perfect edge retention. One important factor to consider for both the mounting and preparation stages is water drainage as mounting equipment and polishers require drainage of coolant etc.
Grinding &Polishing – Mechanical preparation is the final stage and prepares materialographic specimens for microscopic examination. The specific requirement of the prepared surface is determined by the particular type of analysis or examination. Usually this involves grinding and polishing the block until a smooth metal surface is achieved which can be examined under a microscope.Consider the storing of samples once prepared perhaps with Gratnell tray units or similar solution.
Furthermore, at this stage think about where you will locate acid storage and fume cupboards for the storage and handling of etchant solutions. It is very important that your technicians are using the correct type of fume cupboard for the etchant in use. Fumes must be extracted safely from the work environment.
The importance of the metallurgical laboratory is highlighted by the fact that nearly every item we use in a given day contains metal components that have been tested and approved by a metallurgical lab. The car you drive, the aircraft that flies you to your holiday destination, the tools you use to make repairs around the house, and even the structural steel in your office building have all been rigorously tested by metallurgical labs. We all want to know that we can trust the safety of these items. Without proper metallurgical testing, manufacturers have no way to ensure a metal component’s safety.
It is essential therefore that metallurgical labs and equipment are designed well to ensure the important work that these labs perform to ensure our safety can continue at the highest level.
Here at Kastnerlab, we’ll help you ensure you get the most out of your metallurgy laboratory, drop us a line on [email protected] or give us a call on 01275 464220 to book a free laboratory design workshop.