Instruments for Mechanical Properties Testing - An Interview with CSM Instruments

AZoM conducted a series of interviews at the MS&T 07 trade exhibition in Detroit between September 17 and 18. Here's what one of the exhibitors had to say when asked about their latest developments, products and technologies.

Interviewee: Nicholas Randall, Vice President Business Development, CSM Instruments
Interviewer: Cameron Chai, AZoNano

AZoNano: This is Cameron Chai here from at the MS&T Trade Show in Detroit and I've got with me now Nicholas Randall from CSM Instruments. How's the trade show going for you so far, Nicholas?

CSM Instruments: Very good.

AZoNano: Getting lots of people with lots of interest in your machines?

CSM Instruments: Yeah, we had a very busy day on the booth, very busy.

AZoNano: Good to hear. So for anybody who's never heard of CSM before, just quickly, what do you guys do?

CSM Instruments: So we make a range of instruments for mechanical properties testing. So there's three main groups. One is indentation testing, micro and nanoscale, one is scratch testing for measuring the adhesion of coatings, and the third is trivology testing for measuring the friction and wear of materials in contact.

AZoNano: Sounds like a fair range of materials and testing-type applications you have there and lots of stuff to do with the motor industry where we're in heart of here in Detroit.

CSM Instruments: Absolutely. So our applications are very wide and varied, but particularly in the automotive industry, anything that's coated, we test. So we measure the mechanical properties of any coated item. That can be tappets, it can be drive train, it can the aesthetic coatings and the interiors of cars, it can be the exterior varnish, you know, how easy does your car paint get scratched? And if it does get scratched, how fast does it recover, viscoelastically? These are all parameters that we can measure with our machines with nanoscale precision and resolution.

AZoNano: Sounds great. Now you've got a new machine over there that I saw.

CSM Instruments: That's right.

AZoNano: You've got a tabletop nanoindentation tester. What can you tell me about that?

CSM Instruments: So, we've been nanoindentation testers for probably over 10 years, but they're all rather large and bulky machines. Our new instrument is a tabletop nanoindenter, so it means it's much smaller and more compact, you can have it on a tabletop, you don't need to have a PC control. We actually have control through a USB interface. So I can set up a test protocol, give you the USB stick, you'll just walk over to the machine, stick in the stick and press start and it will automatically do the test.

AZoNano: That's very impressive.

CSM Instruments: For industrial quality control, this is what companies want. They don't want something that's very complicated that costs them a PhD to run. They want a simple machine that a technician can put a component that's coated on, make a simple and easy test, and then feed the data back to central R&D or whoever's interested. So it's very compact. It's also much cheaper. Typically nanoindentation testers go for over $100,000. This sort of machine is well under that, you know, in the sort of $60,000, $70,000 regime.

AZoNano: So have you had much luck selling these machines so far?

CSM Instruments: Yeah. We just started selling them and we've had a few orders in already. So I think they're going to be quite popular.

AZoNano: And they're obviously quite small. It looks like it only takes a footprint on the table of what's that, by like about 50 x 50 centimetres?

CSM Instruments: Yeah, something like that, yeah.

AZoNano: That's quite small really in terms of industrial testing equipment.

CSM Instruments: Absolutely yeah. Small and compact, and that's pretty much it.

AZoNano: And so is it the automotive guys that have been picking these up at the moment?

CSM Instruments: Yeah, automotive people, people doing job coating. So small to mid size companies that perhaps can't afford a fully automated platform and don't need it, but have the budget to buy a smaller system to have on the shop floor and as each batch of coated components comes out, they can measure the hardness and the elastic modulus.

AZoNano: And so before you were telling me about some other applications, other applications like semiconductors, photovoltaics.

CSM Instruments: Yes. So anything that's coated with a thin, and by thin I mean nanometre to a few micron thick coating, would be an application for our instruments. So that can range from semiconductor coatings, so gold, copper, these thin films, metalised layers, PVD CVD coatings, cutting tools. You buy drill bits in Home Depot, they're covered in a titanium nitrate coating which is three microns thick. That's a typical application for our measurement machines. Also iron implanted layers, aesthetic coatings, cheap doorknobs, they're all TIN coated plastics now. So really anything that's coated. Optical coatings as well spectacle lenses.

AZoNano: Sounds like a great market that you've opened up there.

CSM Instruments: Yeah, and we're finding new applications every day.

AZoNano: That's great. Alright then Nicholas, thanks very much for spending a few minutes with us and hopefully the rest of the trade show goes well for you.

CSM Instruments: Thank you.

Date Added: Jul 16, 2008 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
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