What Happens in a Metallurgy Lab?

Metallurgy is relatively unfamiliar to the general public, but it is nevertheless a very important branch of science. The multidisciplinary science of metallurgy involves studying the physical and chemical properties of metallic elements and their alloys, which are combinations of different metallic elements.

Metallurgical labs employ teams of industrial engineers and scientists to serve companies that manufacture products containing metal components. Since metal components are found countless products today, metallurgical labs work with clients in a broad range of industries.  A typical metallurgical lab is likely to support clients from the aerospace, automotive, insurance, medical, and construction industries.  Metallurgical labs also frequently serve the legal industry.  Attorneys often use scientists from metallurgical labs as expert witnesses to testify during trials involving injuries stemming from failure of metal components.

Metallurgical labs contain high tech equipment to perform important tests. Some of these tests include: failure testing, corrosion testing, chemical analysis, fatigue testing, metallography, and weld testing. The highly specialized equipment used for testing requires specific training in order to operate properly.  Here are a few examples:

·         Inductively-coupled plasma
·         Scanning electron microscopy
·         Vacuum optical emission spectroscopy
·         Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy
·         Inert-gas fusion
·         X-Ray Fluorescence
·         Knoop and Vickers micro-hardness testers
·         Thermal outgassing

Believe it or not, this information is relevant to you.  Why?  Because nearly every item you use in a given day contains metal components that have been tested and approved by a metallurgical lab. The car you use to drive the kids to school, the airliner you use to fly to vacation, the tools you use to make repairs around the house, and even the structural steel in your office building have all been rigorously tested by metallurgical labs.  We all want to know that we can trust the safety of these items. Without proper metallurgical testing, manufacturers have no way to ensure a metal component’s safety.

You may never set foot in a metallurgical lab, but now you can hopefully appreciate the important work that these labs perform to ensure your safety.