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How labs prepare for the future

How materials testing laboratories are preparing for the future


Interview with Dr Natalie Rudolph, Business Field Manager Polymer at NETZSCH Analyzing & Testing.

Materials testing laboratories face many challenges. Those who want to be ready for the future cannot avoid a digital transformation. And this should happen as quickly as possible, says Dr Natalie Rudolph in an interview.

About Dr Natalie Rudolph:
Dr. Rudolph is an expert in manufacturing and polymer analytics – from classic polymer processing to high-performance composites and additive manufacturing. Her focus is on material and process optimisation through comprehensive experiments, testing and data analysis. Among other things, she built up a materials testing laboratory at a Fraunhofer Institute and worked as a professor in the mechanical engineering department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

She also worked as a development manager at the start-up AREVO Inc. (Silicon Valley), which is rethinking global additive manufacturing. Currently, Dr. Rudolph is the Polymer Business Unit Manager at NETZSCH Analyzing & Testing. As LabV, we consider ourselves lucky to have a woman with such expertise supporting us as an advisor in the Business Development Team.


Dr. Rudolph, how do you see the future of materials testing laboratories in general?

Dr. Natalie Rudolph: In the future, the importance of materials testing laboratories will continue to increase as more and more companies will rely on quality control and the development of new materials. This will lead to a stronger demand for high-quality testing services and force laboratories to further improve their processes and technologies. The optimisation of existing materials has always been and still is a driver for innovation. The ideal prerequisite for this is if testing laboratories can easily and quickly compare and correlate production data with laboratory data. But most materials testing labs are not yet equipped for this. This requires the networking of the laboratory equipment with the production machines. Often, however, not even the laboratory devices in materials testing laboratories are networked with each other.


Why do you think materials testing laboratories are often not yet digitised?

Dr. Natalie Rudolph: Until now, only large IT solutions such as SAP or LIMS were available for the digitalisation of materials testing laboratories. These systems entail enormous investment and operating costs that laboratories of large corporations can afford, but not small and medium-sized laboratories. Moreover, the introduction of such IT systems consumes a lot of time. As a rule, materials testing laboratories do not have time. The introduction of laboratory software should therefore be as quick and smooth as possible. In the meantime, LabV is a data platform and software for laboratory analyses that is affordable and quick to install. For every laboratory I have worked in so far, I would have wished for a laboratory software like LabV. But unfortunately there was no such thing at the time.


Why is data analysis important in materials testing laboratories?

Dr. Natalie Rudolph: Data analysis in materials testing laboratories makes sense because it enables the results of materials tests to be interpreted more accurately and trends and patterns in the data to be identified. The prerequisite for this, however, is that data is available digitally in a comparable platform. In LabV they do. By analysing the data, materials testing labs can better understand how materials react under different conditions. This information can then be used to develop better materials and improve the quality of products. Data analysis can also help to identify and correct errors in testing, which in turn leads to more accurate and reliable results. In the future, the importance of materials testing laboratories will continue to increase as more and more companies will rely on quality control and the development of new materials.


Dr. Rudolph, thank you very much for the interview!

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