Acoustic and thermal product solutions play a vital role in a wide range of systems and structures. By absorbing, blocking, and isolating sound and heat, they help keep equipment and equipment users safe. Given their important function, it is essential to verify that they work as intended before using them. That’s why, like many other industrial materials, they are subjected to rigorous testing to ensure they meet the necessary specifications and standards for their designated applications.
Common Material Tests for Acoustical and Thermal Treatments
Two of the tests acoustic and thermal treatments commonly undergo are UL testing and ASTM testing. Below, we provide an overview of what they entail and why they are important.
What Is UL Testing, and Why Is It Important?
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is an independent, third-party company providing product safety testing and certification services. It sets specific safety standards for various product categories and tests new product samples to ensure they meet those standards. If the sample does pass testing, it is given a “listing”, which is displayed on the organization’s website, and allowed to have the UL mark. While products are not legally required to be UL listed, many companies pursue UL certification since some customers will only buy things that have it since they have been verified as safe.
Products with the UL stamp can be grouped into three categories: UL listed, UL recognized, and UL classified. While the three have many similarities, they also have some key differences. For example, UL recognized products are components that are part of a larger assembly (e.g., circuit boards in electrical equipment), while UL listed products are standalone products (e.g., the complete electrical device). The former is much easier to attain than the latter since a manufacturer can select which components receive certification within the assembly rather than certifying the whole assembly and the industry standards are not as rigid. However, the latter offers better assurance that the complete product is safe to go to market.
What Is ASTM Testing, and Why Is It Important?
Previously known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), ASTM International is an American organization that develops and publishes technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. These standards focus on ensuring the quality and safety of industrial and consumer products. They are developed for and used by various industries across the world. If a new industry wants to establish standardization for its products, companies within it come together under ASTM International to establish standards.
Today, more than 143 technical standards-writing committees have written over 12,000 international standards under ASTM International. All of them can be classified into one of six categories:
- Standard Specification — Defines the requirements that the test subject must meet
- Standard Test Method — Defines the testing method and the degree of precision needed in the result
- Standard Practice — Defines the sequence of operations that fail to produce results
- Standard Guide — Provides a list of options or collection of details that don’t require a particular course of action
- Standard Classification — Guides the creation of groups of systems, products, materials, or services based on shared aspects, including properties, use, origin, or composition
- Terminology Standard — Provides specific definitions of terms that other standards use
While the organization does not require or enforce compliance with any of its standards, some external companies, industries, or governments may require products to abide by them. Certified members of ASTM International can perform tests to verify the products meet the necessary standards.
Material Standards by Industry
The standards acoustical and thermal materials must meet can vary from industry to industry, so it is important to know and understand the different material standards relevant to each industry. Otherwise, the materials may undergo insufficient testing, which could mean they are not verified to have the necessary specifications to allow for safe use within the intended application.
Below, we highlight some examples of material standards by industry.
- FMVSS 302 — Federal motor vehicle standard for the burn rate of interior materials
- ASTM E162 — Radiant flammability for mass transit
- ASTM E662 — Smoke density for mass transit
- BSS 7239 — Smoke toxicity for mass transit
- FMVSS 302 — Federal motor vehicle standard for burn rate of interior materials
- UL2200 — Standby generator standard
- UL94 — Flammability standard for plastics materials
- ASTM E84 – Architectural fire test, Class A, flame and smoke density
Material Testing at Technicon Acoustics
Need acoustic and thermal materials for your next project? Technicon Acoustics is the ideal source! We subject our products to rigorous material tests, so you can trust in their quality and safety. To learn more about our material solutions, contact us today.