Smithers Rapra Technology Limited

Smithers Rapra is recognised as a world leader in rubber, plastics and composites expertise, delivering trusted solutions by integrating science, technology and business expertise.

Established for over 90 years, we are innovative in adding value throughout the life cycle of our clients’ products. Our comprehensive and independent service includes consultancy, testing, analysis, processing and research for the polymer industry and industries using plastics and rubber in any component, product or production process.

Smithers Rapra is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Smithers Group

Working for industry

A varied selection of industries are supported by Smithers Rapra all requiring polymer knowledge and experience. End-user industries include:

  • Automotive - original equipment manufacturers and their suppliers.
  • Industrial - off-shore, construction, utilities, power generation, hoses and pipes.
  • Consumer - white goods, clothing, toys and food packaging.
  • Medical products - inhalers, syringes, catheters and blister packs.
  • Transport - aerospace, rail, bus and trucks, off road and marine.

The unique mix of expertise and facilities enable the application of an integrated approach to problem solving. The company's core capabilities are the extensive equipment available and the skills and experience of its people, many of whom are recognised and accepted by their peers, as leading experts in their particular field. Clients commission individual services, specialist consultancy or participate in multi-client research projects. Assistance in obtaining funding from the European Community and UK government and/or industry to progress research and development of polymer technology and its applications are provided.

Quality

Smithers Rapra's quality system is accredited by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), both as a testing laboratory (certificate No. 0067) and a calibration laboratory (certificate No. 0306) in accordance with the recognised International Standard, ISO/IEC 17025:2005. The FDA has completed a full inspection and has approved Smithers Rapra for Laboratory testing. These accreditations and standards combined with an in-house quality management system underpin the technical competence for the range of activities provided.

Mechanical Testing

Smithers Rapra has extensive experience of testing materials and products manufactured from rubber, plastic and other polymers. A broad spectrum of industries utilise the testing services and test programmes are implemented for; material suppliers, processors, manufacturers and end users.

Once a test programme is proposed, the type of testing required is assessed in consultation with the client and with reference to the applicable standards and previous experience. The proposed test programme will come under one of the following testing regimes;

  • Conducting a test programme to a standard recognised internationally by following a testing procedure that is clearly documented.
  • The development of a testing procedure to meet a defined standard, but there is no stipulated method to prove that standard.
  • The creation of a testing regime where no standards exist, the requirement is discussed with the client and a programme of testing is agreed and actioned.

The laboratories at Smithers Rapra are UKAS accredited and the majority of projects are carried out in accordance to ISO 17025. In house auditing procedures guarantee the service delivered to clients is accurate and reliable. Consultants and test engineers at Smithers Rapra have become experts through experience in providing bespoke tests and schedules to meet individual client requirements. This level of experience also covers the fabrication of customised testing rigs and jigs to emulate actual environments.

The consultants and technologists regularly create bespoke testing programmes to meet the demands of manufacturers looking to provide independent evidence that their product is of the highest standard and fit for purpose. When taking a new or revised product to market, validation by a world renowned test facility like Smithers Rapra will increase the speed at which it is accepted into the marketplace.

Chemical Analysis of Rubbers and plastics

Smithers Rapra delivers a complete portfolio of rubber and plastic analysis to support a wide range of industry sectors. Activities also include work for academia, the EC and UK Government Agencies (e.g. the Food Standards Agency).

Smithers Rapra's UKAS accredited laboratories provide techniques to examine the chemical and physical properties of numerous materials and compounds including:

  • Base polymers - elastomers and thermoplastics
  • Compounds - rubbers, thermoplastics and thermoset formulations
  • Additives - fillers, plasticisers, antidegradants and curatives
  • Polymer based products - adhesives, paints, inks, lacquers, laminate films, plastisols and coating
  • Manufacturing sector products and components used in - automotive, construction, electrical, medical and offshore industries

The laboratories at Smithers Rapra are commissioned for data only projects or combined with consultancy services to form a comprehensive project. Analytical services typically support the following activities throughout the product lifecycle:

  • Materials selection
  • Product development
  • Compound deformulation/formulation
  • Service life prediction
  • Quality assurance
  • Process improvements
  • Technical specification compliance
  • Failure analysis
  • Forensic investigation
  • Expert witness service

Identification of rubber and plastic materials

Smithers Rapra provides a comprehensive analytical service to Industry, educational institutions and individuals. The range of materials analysed is vast and includes:

  • Thermoplastic composites
  • Cured elastomers
  • Thermosets and composite materials and products
  • Polymer additives and compounding ingredients
  • Other polymer based products including additives coatings, adhesives, inks and paints

The analytical techniques used at Smithers Rapra are constantly being reviewed and embrace latest technology and developments. Principal techniques currently include:

  • Spectroscopic - (FT-IR, Infrared Microspectroscopy, UV/Vis Spectroscopy)
  • Chromatographic (HPLC, GPC, GC, GC-MS, LCMS, GCMS TOF)
  • Thermal (DSC, TGA, DMTA, Thermal Diffusivity)
  • Plus - a range of wet chemical and other general, specialist or miscellaneous techniques.

Material analysis is often requested to answer the following questions:

  • What materials are my competitors using in their products?
  • Is my material supplier providing the same material as sampled?
  • Can you monitor the quality of material supplied to me by my supplier?
  • What material do I need to specify for my product?

Consultancy services

The Polymer Consultancy Centre at Smithers Rapra provides assistance with pre-production issues including product design, guidance with material selection, durability and lifetime prediction. Post production services cover an accurate understanding of product and material evaluation and development.

The common link between the varied industries that the Consultancy Centre serves is that they all have issues with rubber, plastics or other Polymeric materials. The Consultants work alongside their customers offering guidance and support as an integral part of the product design and development process.

Smithers Rapra uses the necessary skills and experience to undertake entire product design and development programmes using knowledge built up over many years of supporting the Rubber and Plastic industry. The Consultancy team has an unrivalled understanding of how polymer materials perform in service, not just on "Day One" but after many years of service.

Failure Analysis and Process Trouble shooting

Smithers Rapra have undertaken tens of thousands of polymer (rubber, plastic, TPEs, fibre, adhesive, coatings & paint) failure investigations and have delivered a rapid and unbiased assessment of failed products / materials and the identification of the probable cause of failure.

The Polymer Consultancy has a dedicated team of polymer specialist's drawn from industry and academia who have a fundamental understanding of polymer behaviour, how polymer products / parts perform in-service, extensive experience of failure modes and a practical appreciation of design and processing. Supported by extensive microscopy, analytical and mechanical testing laboratories the consultancy team characterise polymer composition and mechanical performance in order to rapidly assess the cause of product / material failure and, importantly, recommend remedial / corrective actions to minimise the risk of further failure and if possible improve device, component or structure performance.

Specialist Manufacturing

From Smithers Rapra's unparalleled knowledge of the relationships between polymers, product design, performance, durability and manufacture, a low volume high quality manufacturing service for plastics, rubber and polyurethane parts has been developed.

Technologists are experienced in designing and utilising small scale production lines and developing novel processing technology. The highest production standards are maintained by in house quality and auditing systems to ensure product quality and consistency. Consultants and technologists regularly advise on developing or improving manufacturing processes and on tooling, including the development of moulds and dies. Smithers Rapra offers a range of manufacturing techniques including compounding, extrusion based processes, moulding and rubber parts.

The processing service delivers benefits to new and existing clients with new product ideas as well as companies that would otherwise have to shut down complete manufacturing lines to develop new products.

For further information on the technical services available from Smithers Rapra please contact

Europe: info@rapra.net or telephone +44 (0) 1939 250383

US: info@smithersrapra.com or telephone +1 330-577-3992