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A01 STEEL, STAINLESS STEEL AND RELATED ALLOYS A04 IRON CASTINGS A05 METALLIC-COATED IRON AND STEEL PRODUCTS B01 ELECTRICAL CONDUCTORS B05 COPPER AND COPPER ALLOYS B07 LIGHT METALS AND ALLOYS C01 CEMENT C04 VITRIFIED CLAY PIPE C07 LIME AND LIMESTONE C09 CONCRETE AND CONCRETE AGGREGATES C11 GYPSUM AND RELATED BUILDING MATERIALS AND SYSTEMS C12 MORTARS AND GROUTS FOR UNIT MASONRY C13 CONCRETE PIPE C14 GLASS AND GLASS PRODUCTS C15 MANUFACTURED MASONRY UNITS C16 THERMAL INSULATION C17 FIBER-REINFORCED CEMENT PRODUCTS C18 DIMENSION STONE C21 CERAMIC WHITEWARES AND RELATED PRODUCTS C24 BUILDING SEALS AND SEALANTS C27 PRECAST CONCRETE PRODUCTS D01 PAINT AND RELATED COATINGS, MATERIALS, AND APPLICATIONS D04 ROAD AND PAVING MATERIALS D07 WOOD D08 ROOFING AND WATERPROOFING D09 ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC INSULATING MATERIALS D11 RUBBER D14 ADHESIVES D18 SOIL AND ROCK D20 PLASTICS D35 GEOSYNTHETICS E05 FIRE STANDARDS E06 PERFORMANCE OF BUILDINGS E33 BUILDING AND ENVIRONMENTAL ACOUSTICS E36 ACCREDITATION & CERTIFICATION E57 3D IMAGING SYSTEMS E60 SUSTAINABILITY F01 ELECTRONICS F06 RESILIENT FLOOR COVERINGS F13 PEDESTRIAN/WALKWAY SAFETY AND FOOTWEAR F16 FASTENERS F17 PLASTIC PIPING SYSTEMS F33 DETENTION AND CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES F36 TECHNOLOGY AND UNDERGROUND UTILITIES G03 WEATHERING AND DURABILITY C14 GLASS AND GLASS PRODUCTS C21 CERAMIC WHITEWARES AND RELATED PRODUCTS D01 PAINT AND RELATED COATINGS, MATERIALS, AND APPLICATIONS D06 PAPER AND PAPER PRODUCTS D09 ELECTRICAL AND ELECTRONIC INSULATING MATERIALS D10 PACKAGING D11 RUBBER D12 SOAPS AND OTHER DETERGENTS D13 TEXTILES D14 ADHESIVES D15 ENGINE COOLANTS AND RELATED FLUIDS D20 PLASTICS D21 POLISHES D31 LEATHER E12 COLOR AND APPEARANCE E18 SENSORY EVALUATION E20 TEMPERATURE MEASUREMENT E35 PESTICIDES, ANTIMICROBIALS, AND ALTERNATIVE CONTROL AGENTS E41 LABORATORY APPARATUS E53 ASSET MANAGEMENT E57 3D IMAGING SYSTEMS F02 FLEXIBLE BARRIER PACKAGING F05 BUSINESS IMAGING PRODUCTS F06 RESILIENT FLOOR COVERINGS F08 SPORTS EQUIPMENT, PLAYING SURFACES, AND FACILITIES F09 TIRES F10 LIVESTOCK, MEAT, AND POULTRY EVALUATION SYSTEMS F11 VACUUM CLEANERS F13 PEDESTRIAN/WALKWAY SAFETY AND FOOTWEAR F14 FENCES F15 CONSUMER PRODUCTS F16 FASTENERS F24 AMUSEMENT RIDES AND DEVICES F26 FOOD SERVICE EQUIPMENT F27 SNOW SKIING F37 LIGHT SPORT AIRCRAFT F43 LANGUAGE SERVICES AND PRODUCTS F44 GENERAL AVIATION AIRCRAFT A01 STEEL, STAINLESS STEEL AND RELATED ALLOYS A04 IRON CASTINGS A05 METALLIC-COATED IRON AND STEEL PRODUCTS A06 MAGNETIC PROPERTIES B01 ELECTRICAL CONDUCTORS B02 NONFERROUS METALS AND ALLOYS B05 COPPER AND COPPER ALLOYS B07 LIGHT METALS AND ALLOYS B08 METALLIC AND INORGANIC COATINGS B09 METAL POWDERS AND METAL POWDER PRODUCTS B10 REACTIVE AND REFRACTORY METALS AND ALLOYS C03 CHEMICAL-RESISTANT NONMETALLIC MATERIALS C08 REFRACTORIES C28 ADVANCED CERAMICS D01 PAINT AND RELATED COATINGS, MATERIALS, AND APPLICATIONS D20 PLASTICS D30 COMPOSITE MATERIALS E01 ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY FOR METALS, ORES, AND RELATED MATERIALS E04 METALLOGRAPHY E07 NONDESTRUCTIVE TESTING E08 FATIGUE AND FRACTURE E12 COLOR AND APPEARANCE E13 MOLECULAR SPECTROSCOPY AND SEPARATION SCIENCE E28 MECHANICAL TESTING E29 PARTICLE AND SPRAY CHARACTERIZATION E37 THERMAL MEASUREMENTS E42 SURFACE ANALYSIS F01 ELECTRONICS F34 ROLLING ELEMENT BEARINGS F40 DECLARABLE SUBSTANCES IN MATERIALS F42 ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES G01 CORROSION OF METALS G03 WEATHERING AND DURABILITY D08 ROOFING AND WATERPROOFING D18 SOIL AND ROCK D19 WATER D20 PLASTICS D22 AIR QUALITY D34 WASTE MANAGEMENT D35 GEOSYNTHETICS E06 PERFORMANCE OF BUILDINGS E44 SOLAR, GEOTHERMAL AND OTHER ALTERNATIVE ENERGY SOURCES E47 E48 BIOENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS FROM BIOMASS E50 ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT, RISK MANAGEMENT AND CORRECTIVE ACTION E60 SUSTAINABILITY F20 HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES AND OIL SPILL RESPONSE F40 DECLARABLE SUBSTANCES IN MATERIALS G02 WEAR AND EROSION E11 QUALITY AND STATISTICS E36 ACCREDITATION & CERTIFICATION E43 SI PRACTICE E55 MANUFACTURE OF PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCTS E56 NANOTECHNOLOGY F42 ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES
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Business Case

BusinessCase

Standardization Squared

Standards Form the Foundation of a Testing Equipment Manufacturer’s Business

If you were walking around Q-Lab’s headquarters or any of our global locations, it wouldn’t take long to hear someone — sales professionals, product engineers, help desk technicians, marketing application specialists, upper management, etc. — mention ASTM. This is because standards are essential to what we do. Q-Lab is a global leader in weathering and corrosion test chambers and exposure test services. Our brands, QUV, Q-SUN, Q-FOG, and Q-PANEL, are intricately connected to ASTM International standards.1 They are part of our DNA.

Weathering and corrosion testing helps product developers and materials scientists design for better durability in the outdoor environment. The combined forces of sunlight, moisture and heat are the enemy. Q-Lab’s test chambers simulate these conditions so that our customers can test, reformulate and test again in a repeatable way that accelerates the effects of these environmental stressors. Our customers rely on ASTM standards for product development, quality control, and in many cases, compliance with regulations. Our customers’ customers often demand adherence to ASTM standards to ensure they get quality products. We help them meet those standards.

Q-Lab founder George Grossman began participating in ASTM International early in the company’s history, which began in 1956. By the early 1960s, Q-Lab was an active member of Committee D01 on Paint and Related Coatings, Materials and Applications in support of the Q-PANEL line of standardized test substrates.

Of the nine ASTM technical committees whose meetings we regularly attend and the dozen or more we closely follow, Committee G03 on Weathering and Durability is one of the most important to us. It is no coincidence that our first test chamber, the QCT condensation tester, was introduced in 1965 (the same year G03 was formed). It is also no coincidence that our QUV accelerated weathering tester became the world’s most widely used weathering tester after publication of ASTM G53 (now G154, Practice for Operating Fluorescent Ultraviolet (UV) Lamp Apparatus for Exposure of Nonmetallic Materials) in 1976.

Q-Lab’s current president, Douglas Grossman, is chairman of Subcommittee D01.27 on Accelerated Testing and has been an ASTM member since 1975. He cites the existence of Committee G03 as an advantage that sets ASTM apart from other standards organizations. Calling G03 “standardization squared” because it was formed to standardize the process of creating standards on weathering testing, Grossman says, “The beauty of G03 is that it provides a single forum for hashing out unified standards that codify the basic principles of weathering tests. Then the materials committees can write brief weathering standards that reference G03’s standards and directly address only the peculiarities of their own application — without the necessity of reinventing the wheel every time.” This is a point we’ll return to later.

Q-Lab’s products are sold in more than 50 countries, and our customer base represents a diverse array of industries: building materials, paints, plastics, automotive, textiles, adhesives and sealants, pharmaceuticals, photovoltaics, cosmetics, food and beverages, and others that sometimes surprise us. Our weathering and standardization experts participate in numerous ASTM International technical committees, attending hundreds of hours of meetings and conference calls each year. This is a significant investment for us, but there is no doubt that the effort pays off. The global reach we have achieved in so many industries would not have been possible without standardization and specifically ASTM.

The benefits that Q-Lab derives from ASTM standards can be boiled down to two key areas. First, ASTM standards are recognized and respected by customers in most of our market segments. Because we design our products to comply with ASTM standards and actively participate in standards development, Q-Lab gains respect and recognition by association. Second, when we participate in ASTM committees, we have the opportunity to collaborate with many of our customers, learn from technical leaders in many industries and disciplines, and advance the state of the art.

A fresh example is the recent development of ASTM standard D7869, Practice for Xenon Arc Exposure Test with Enhanced Light and Water Exposure for Transportation Coatings, by Committee D01.27. This new standard represents the global state of the art in accelerated weathering testing. Q-Lab worked with a coalition of customers and competitors to create a new test protocol that accurately replicates the effects of south Florida weathering of automotive, aerospace and other related coatings in a xenon arc test chamber. Ford, Honda, Boeing, Bayer, BASF and Atlas were active participants in the decade-long research studies that formed the new standard.

For the first time, a single test was shown to accurately reproduce several material degradation modes seen in the outdoor environment. The prospect of this breakthrough is that development time for new coatings may be cut significantly while manufacturers work to improve durability, reduce costs and develop more environmentally friendly products. Previous methods were capable of reproducing only one or two degradation mechanisms. The result was that the best performing products in laboratory tests weren’t reliably the best performers in actual use. The new method significantly improves correlation between the laboratory and real service for many coatings, and it may achieve comparable results for other materials and industries. However, the fruit of the research was in standardizing the protocol. Q-Lab felt strongly that ASTM International was the logical choice in which to propose a new standard.

The process of proposing, writing and approving new standards within ASTM is robust and efficient. As mentioned earlier, the existence of Committee G03 streamlined the process because G155, Practice for Operating Xenon Arc Light Apparatus for Exposure of Nonmetallic Materials, already standardizes weathering tests in xenon arc weathering chambers. Subcommittee D01.27 served as the perfect forum for interested parties to hash out most of the specifics before Q-Lab even submitted the first draft in D01.

The ASTM International balloting process is beyond democratic — every negative vote must be addressed by the technical subcommittee before progressing to the next step. If the subcommittee decides not to make a change based on a negative vote, it must write a technical justification that is reviewed by the ASTM Committee on Standards. In many cases, however, negative votes or comments prove invaluable because they uncover an error or omission that no one else noticed.

For Q-Lab, the ASTM International process empowers us to improve our industry, which exists to help other industries improve their products. Our involvement with ASTM contributes real business results for Q-Lab, and has become ingrained in our corporate culture.

Reference

1. Q-Lab, the Q-Lab logo, QUV, Q-SUN, Q-FOG and Q-PANEL are registered trademarks of Q-Lab Corp.

Sean Fowler joined Q-Lab in 1999 and has been in service and sales roles; he currently is technical marketing specialist, spending much of his time working in standards organizations. He is a member of ASTM Committees D01 on Paint, and Related Coatings, Materials and Applications, D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing, and D20 on Plastics, and he is active in ASTM Committee E44 on Solar, Geothermal and Alternative Energy Sources.

  • Q-Lab
  • Westlake, Ohio
  • Manufacturer of weathering and corrosion test equipment; provider of exposure testing services
  • Market: Global
  • Number of staff: ~200
  • Number of staff who are ASTM members: 11
  • Number of ASTM Technical Committees with Q-Lab Representation: 9

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.