Components found in industrial plants – whether chemical, energy, petrochemical or other – are often subject to heat, aggressive agents and high pressure. These conditions demand steel types that are extremely corrosion and acid resistant even at high temperatures. When austenitic steels are used, it is important to make sure the ferrite content of the weld seams is within strict norms, because only the optimal ferrite content can ensure the best corrosion protection. For this reason some industries have set standards, specifications and regulations for ferrite content.
Measuring the true mechanical properties of micron-scale intermediate layers in thin multilayer foils – without influence from the surrounding layers – is a challenge that very few instruments can meet. It takes highly responsive nanoindentation technology and very precise positioning of the indenter.
In the last several years, great efforts have been made to replace amalgam fillings – which are fraught with disadvantages and therefore no longer used – with inlays made of modern composite resins. Because of the substantial challenges set by intensive daily use, these materials must be extremely durable and able to retain their shape. In order to verify a given composite’s suitability to this purpose, it is therefore necessary to determine precisely key mechanical properties such as micro-hardness and elasticity. Only then is it possible to guarantee optimal long-term results for the patient.
The enamel – the outermost layer – of the tooth is made of a very hard, abrasion- and acid-resistant calcium-phosphate mineral compound. However, the consumption of chemically aggressive foods, imperfect dental care and mechanical wear and tear all combine to gradually soften or even remove the enamel: once this protective covering is damaged, bacteria can pass through to the core, resulting in tooth decay. Supposedly, dental rinses and toothpastes can protect the enamel and make it more impermeable. But is this effect actually measurable and thereby provable?
The demands placed on the performance of optical components have skyrocketed and, in response, highly complex coating systems have been developed to produce surfaces that are scratch-resistant, dirt-repellent, anti-static and reflective. Various curing processes are integral to the production of optical coatings, making it difficult but important to find the decisive balance between coating hardness and elasticity.
Aluminium tubes and cans are a commonly used as packaging for pharmaceutical, cosmetic or even food products. In order to prevent direct contact and chemical reactions between the container and the contents, the tubes are usually coated inside with a protective polymer layer. The thickness of the coating must be monitored regularly during the application process to ensure the proper function of the protective lining.
Using containers made of paperboard coated with polyethylene and aluminium foils (aseptic carton) is common practice for packaging beverages such as milk or fruit juices. But even tiny defects in the packaging coating systems can lead to spoilage of the product inside.
Sometimes, due to injury or disease, load bearing joints such as knees or hips must be replaced with artificial orthopaedics. Such surgeries are not only extremely painful but also expensive and risky; therefore, the longevity of these appliances is paramount: implants must be durable and generate absolutely minimal debris. Long service life is achieved through the use of tough coatings such as hard chrome or ceramics.
Because it is impervious to high temperatures and chemically reactive substances, vitreous enamel makes an excellent anti-corrosion barrier for the boilers and tanks used in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. But this protection is only guaranteed if the coating is 100% continuous and has no pores, cracks, or other defects that could allow exchange between the equipment and its contents. This requires a reliable porosity test.
The components of medical devices are subject to very stringent safety and quality requirements. An example is the slide bearings used in up-market X-ray equipment: The flawless functioning of these bearings depends on, among other things, the quality of their surfaces. All defects in those surfaces, even the finest hairline cracks, must be ruled out – a major challenge for the inspection metrology employed.