Hired help for bespoke composite tests


A composite testing company based in Devon has expanded its range of services by supplementing laboratory test equipment with specialist rental instruments from Ashtead Technology. “We have invested heavily in the latest materials testing equipment for our Honiton lab, but we have a regular requirement for NDT equipment and financially it makes sense to hire these instruments,” said Paul Yeo, Managing Director at Composite Test & Evaluation Ltd.

With a background in testing for the helicopter industry, Paul established the company around six years ago and has seen considerable growth over that time. “We provide consultancy and mechanical testing services for composites and non-metallic specimens and have established a strong reputation in a variety of industry sectors, including automotive, aerospace, construction and renewable energy.

“As a service provider, we rely on recommendations and referrals and a high proportion of our income is from repeat business, so we focus heavily on the quality of our work and offering feedback and explanations in addition to test results.

“We provide a quick response to customer requests, so our working relationship with Ashtead Technology has been mutually beneficial. This is because we have fast access to a wide range of technologies and by renting we only pay for them when we need them, which lowers costs for both us and our clients.”

One of the bespoke testing services provided by Composite Test & Evaluation is ‘compression after impact’ testing, a procedure in which samples are subjected to impacts across a range of energy levels and then subsequently assessed by NDT. This assessment is undertaken with a hired DolphiCam, an ultrasonic array inspection system for the detection of flaws. Connected to a PC, tablet or laptop via a USB port, the DolphiCam creates a high-resolution colour image of defects or damage in just a few seconds, providing a variable-angle 3D representation of the inspection area.

One of the advantages of the DolphiCam over other systems is the easy-to-use software that behaves like a smartphone app and requires very little training to operate. Combined with a touch-screen laptop, which is provided as part of the rental equipment, the system is incredibly quick to set up to start analysing defects in composites.

Following a brief familiarisation course, Paul said: “The ease with which the DolphiCam can be operated makes this the ideal instrument for our application; we do not need to employ a highly-qualified NDT engineer, yet we are creating very high quality reports.”

Paul’s allegiance to Ashtead’s rental fleet is not limited to composite testing; he has also hired an IPLEX TX videoscope, which has an ultra-thin probe and enabled him to find a fault in the pipework of his home.