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Imerys’ laboratory facilities have been developed over many years to give us the ability to simulate on a small scale the manufacturing processes and finished product testing that our customers use. This is essential so that we can “speak your language” when discussing the use of Imerys’ minerals in your applications.
The first stages of applications testing uses a range of equipment and includes compounding equipment for plastics and rubber such as twin screw extruders, Henschel and Banbury mixers, high speed dissolvers and bead mills for preparing paint formulations and high shear mixers for adhesive and sealant compounds.
Once formulations have been prepared they are processed. For plastics we can extrude profiles, mould small components and blow film. For rubber we can injection mould or extrude test items. Paint, adhesive and sealants formualtions are applied to various surfaces in preparation for testing the properties.
During preparation we collect important data which can be used to advise users how their processing parameters will be affected.
To assess the performance Imerys’ minerals we use a vast range of testing equipment and always make tests that are relevant to the industries we are serving, wherever possible using industry standard test methods. For example, paint films will be tested for opacity, gloss, colour, scrub resistance and rheology using the recognised industry testing standards. For plastics, examples of our test include impact strength, tensile strength, colour. Films that we have prepared are tested for physical properties such as strength but also for visual effects such as haze, colour and clarity. Rubber tests also include important properties such as elongation at break, and for the cable industry we test for electrical performance such as dielectric properties. Adhesives and sealants are tested primarily for adhesion performance but also for shelf life, very important for some sealant types.
One strength we have developed through long association with the range industries we serve is that if a test does not exist for an important property we will use our experience to develop one that highlights important performance differences. It is often the subtle changes in the mineral that have significant effects on performance that we can measure and use to guide you to the ideal product for you application.
When we carry out technical service work for customers we prepare and present a full report detailing the formulations used, the processing conditions and the performance of the finished products and conclude with our recommendations. These reports are valuable to customers who can use the data to set up or adjust their own full scale processes and improve performance either of their process or of the finished product.