The father fills the bottle with hot milk for his little darling, checks the temperature again to be on the safe side - and that's it. But how does it work? The milk sometimes leaks out under the lid between the bottle and the nipple. To avoid such nuisances, manufacturers measure and test all product parts very carefully. Sealing parts made of silicon present a particular challenge as it is very difficult to predict how the elastic material will react under pressure.
Starlim//sterner, the Austrian producer of silicon parts, used complex testing procedures for quality assurance in the past. Random samples were placed under pressure for an extended period of time. As a result of these long-term tests, the samples were destroyed and the development process was prolonged. The company now uses computer tomography to x-ray the inside of the product without damaging it. To do this, it uses the METROTOM 800 from Carl Zeiss which can produce a 3D image as a volume model with accuracy of 4.5 micrometers. This model allows the manufacture and analysis of any number of virtual sections. It is also possible to take a virtual "flight" through the part.
"In the past, we primarily relied on the experience of our product developers and common sense. We can now measure every detail with absolute certainty and reproducibility," starlim//sterner R&D Manager Johannes Pichler explains. The advantage lies not so much in the speed of measurement, but in the quality. After all, with volumes of several hundred million units per year, defects would be financially devastating. When it comes to the car steering wheel controls or medical systems also produced by the company, defective items can potentially have much more serious consequences than just a stained bib.
October 18, 2011