Changes of Seasons - A New Era
Testing Services Update | September 2022
As we enter the fall season, we will also be entering a new era here at NGC Testing Services. This will be my last letter introducing our newsletter. Mike Rizzo, Manager - Testing Services and Quality, will be spearheading newsletter content in the future. He will also have increasing responsibilities at the lab and take on a greater leadership role in the near future.
Many of you reading this have worked with Mike and know his professionalism, testing knowledge and excellent customer service. In case you do not know him, or his extensive background in testing, included in this newsletter is an article about Mike.
On the technical side, we include an article on improvements since “the good old days” in instrumentation and accuracy in acoustical and fire testing. We discuss the wide range of systems and products we have tested over the years in addition to conventional building products. We also provide evidence that our reach is worldwide with a list of selected countries beyond North America where our customers reside, and what we tested for them. Another article discusses our full scale and pilot screening NFPA 285 test capabilities.
Have a great remaining 2022, let us know if we can be of assistance with your testing projects.
Meet Michael "Mike" Rizzo
Manager - Testing Services and Quality at NGC Testing Services
During his 10 years with our company, Mike has managed the fire, structural and physical testing operations, plus the quality system. He will continue to add to his responsibilities. Mike has extensive testing experience. Prior to joining NGC Testing Services, he spent 13 years product testing for Calspan Corporation conducting transonic wind tunnel testing for the aerospace industry. He is an active member of ASTM Committees E05, E06 and E33, and is on UL’s Standards Technical Panel 263 – Fire Resistance of Building Construction and Assemblies.
Many of you who have tested here have experienced Mike’s professionalism, knowledge and attention to detail firsthand. A graduate of the University at Buffalo with dual bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering, he also holds a Master of Science in Education from Niagara University. A lifelong resident of the Buffalo area, Mike and his wife, Nicole, have three children with his oldest following his footsteps at Niagara University.
Mike enjoys watching baseball, and our Bills and Sabres. He spends much of his free time coaching youth sports. He also enjoys playing a few rounds of golf and cooking for his family. Feel free to call or e-mail Mike about your next testing program.
How “Good” were the “Good Old Days”?
Technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past few decades. Improved technical breakthroughs have enhanced everyday life and made living much easier. The same has been apparent in the acoustic community. The technology, test procedures and hardware we use to evaluate the acoustic environment and testing are significantly better than 60 years ago.
In the “good old days”, acoustic analyzers we used for testing were analog in nature. As with all analog measurement equipment, capacitors, filters, and vacuum tubes would change, and their operating characteristics could drift over time. Unless you had frequent calibrations of the analyzer, you may not know if or how far readings may have also drifted. Also, the actual measurement process involved the acoustician watching the output of the measuring analyzer on a VU meter. The needle of a VU meter moved as a function of the sound input. Normally, the needle was not stationary, and the acoustical engineer had to subjectively determine the moving needle’s level of central tendency on the VU meter’s scale. This proved very difficult, especially at the low frequencies. You needed an engineer that had significant experience to decide the actual sound level you were measuring.
Another issue 60 years ago was that measurements were made one one-third octave frequency at a time. The development of Real Time Analyzers (RTA) has also improved this aspect of the measurement process. Considering that there are 16 one-third octave frequencies we concern ourselves with, one test could take up to a full day to conduct using analog analyzers. Real Time Analyzers measure all one-third octave frequencies simultaneously thus reducing actual test time.
Today’s digital analyzers are superior to these analog measurement systems. Our computer-based acquisition system is much quicker and can process much more data than the older analog analyzers. It can make 240 measurements in a 30-second sampling period collecting 1,260 pieces of data at millisecond intervals. When you consider there are, at times, 16 different microphone positions per test method that are measured at each of the sixteen one-third octave frequencies, that is a huge difference from the olden days as far as amount and accuracy and expediency of test data. Tests are completed within an hour for a present-day test.
Test procedures in the “good old days” were not as technically specific as they are these days. At the present time, ASTM test procedures are specific to instrumentation, test chamber design, diffusion, microphone placement and statistical analysis. These procedures are the result of many years of research, review and development by ASTM membership. Sixty years ago, measurements of STC, IIC, NRC, CAC, etc. were relatively new. As members of ASTM technical committees, we have grown in our understanding of the quantities we are trying to measure and quantify.
All these issues being considered, it is a tribute to the acousticians of those times that they were as accurate and conscientious to provide the quality testing they did. However, the advances in technology and gained knowledge in acoustical testing make it much easier, and in the long run, more accurate than those “good old days”.
Fire Testing Data Collection
As we discussed in acoustical testing, on the fire testing side, accuracy and the amount of data collected have also significantly increased with computer-based acquisition systems. Previously, mechanical strip charts recorded, on a rotating basis, one temperature at a time at one-minute intervals. The exact time and temperature, and test failure point had to be interoperated in many instances. Test temperature data was stored on hard copy paper strip charts. Furnace pressures, opacities and other test data on dial gauges were monitored visually. Our data acquisition systems today are capable of collecting up to 295 temperature measurements concurrently at six-second intervals. All other test data is collected and recorded in the same system. In addition, this tremendous amount of data collected is stored electronically and can be analyzed by computer software.
NFPA 285 Screening Test
Do you need to evaluate the fire propagation characteristics of an exterior wall assembly, or specific combustible components of that assembly, but don’t want to make an initial commitment to a full-scale NFPA 285 test? NGC Testing Services has the capability to conduct an NFPA 285 “Screening Test” on a reduced-size test specimen. The NFPA 285 Screening Test evaluates vertical and lateral flame propagation, through visual observation, on a non-instrumented 10 ft. x 10 ft. test specimen, located directly above the required window opening. The NFPA 285 screening test is ideal for evaluating combustible assembly components, component substitutions, or the effect of different horizontal and vertical joint and seam locations before proceeding to a full-scale accredited NFPA 285 test which we can also conduct here at NGC Testing Services. Contact us to see if the NFPA 285 Screening Test is right for you.
Additional Testing Opportunities
Although a majority of what we test relates to traditional building components, materials or systems, we have tested many other items that need evaluating for acoustic or fire performance. Here is a partial list of other items we have tested:
- 3-D printing building materials
- Airplane insulation and barriers
- Airplane ramps
- Automobile insulation
- Bath tub & shower unit with water activated
- Bridge deck
- Clean room walls
- Drain pipe insulation
- Electrical outlets and boxes
- Gun safes
- Highway sound barriers
- Ice Cream Comb Simulated façade
- Industrial equipment enclosures
- Industrial pipe insulation
- Industrial valves
- Infant car seats
- Jail ceilings
- Kitchen cabinets
Click here to see full list.
We have tested countless products from around the world at our facility. Here is a selection of items from outside the U.S. and Canada we have tested:
1. Transit cars
- Sri Lanka
2. Building materials
- Viet Nam
3. Wall panels
4. Concrete slabs
6. Airport jet ways
1. Concrete highway sound barriers
- United Arab Emanates
5. Ceiling tiles