Image showing temperature uniformity in beer bottle using a testing environmental chamber.

Customized Product Testing for Product Success

By Douglass Burnette, Test Lab Manager
Product Testing

At SIGMADESIGN, we provide customized product testing to ensure our clients’ products are ready for market. Many of our projects are confidential, and therefore, cannot be shared. Luckily, I can share how I use a wide variety of our testing equipment to help test and perfect my “Friday beer”.

This image illustrates customized product testing using a test stand linear abraiser.

Product testing using a linear abraser.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand it when my beer label comes off! SIGMADESIGN has just the tool to test my beer’s label – a linear abraser. This tool allows me to make sure the bottle label won’t leave ink on my hands, label material on the table, or a peeling label on the supermarket shelf.

And I never have to worry about warm beer! At SIGMADESIGN, I have access to a fast-ramp environmental chamber. Using this piece of equipment, I can start with room-temperature brew and bring it down to my ideal consumption temperature in mere minutes.

Customized product testing on a bottle of beer using an environmental chamber. Outside of bottle is frosty due to temperature.

Test using an environmental chamber capable of -70°C temperatures

I do have to watch my brew carefully though. With an environmental chamber capable of -70°C temperatures, it is possible to make my brew a little too frosty and burst a bottle. Fortunately, I have access to a FLIR thermal imaging camera. I can verify my bottle has reached an ideal temperature and temperature uniformity.

Image showing temperature uniformity in beer bottle using a FLIR imaging camera in support of customized product testing

Thermal image indicates the uniformity of temperature

You’ll notice in the thermal image that the in the top of  the bottle, which has less thermal mass due to air in the bottle, it is substantially colder. However, the rest of the bottle is quite uniform in temperature, shown by the mostly uniform pink color.

After wiping off the frost, it’s time to open it up! I always like to make sure my brew was properly sealed by measuring how much torque or force the cap takes to remove. Too little force and the brew will be flat; too much force and someone may struggle to remove the cap. Or worse yet, it could mean an over-compressed seal, which would again cause the loss of carbonation.

Image of Test Stand with custom adapter holding beer bottle to test torque on capped seal.

Verifying the bottle’s seal using an universal torque or force test stand. Another example of customized product testing.

I can easily verify my bottle’s seal using our universal torque or force test stands. Since there are many bottle designs, I can always rely on SIGMADESIGN’s model shop to make an adapter that will work with whatever I’m testing.

And if I ever feel my Friday brew needs additional testing, I know I can count on SIGMADESIGN to help at every stage! We test everything from prototypes to in-production products, not to mention labels and packaging.

Testing is an important part of product development. By testing everything from prototypes to in-production products improvements can be made that ensure the success of a product. Main areas to focus on include testing prototypes, validation testing and human factors testing.

Testing Prototypes

After some initial design work is completed on a product, we start testing prototypes. The first assessment is verification/engineering testing, which is used to validate design decisions and improve on prototypes. This testing is approached quickly and iteratively. Our test technicians and product engineers work closely together to answer unknowns during the design phase. The goal is to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, and turn out improved prototypes. As I mentioned above, I can’t stand it when my beer label comes off. So, if I want to ensure my custom “Friday brew” label will stand out and perform well in a variety of environments, testing a prototype is the way to go.

Validation Testing

As product ideas becomes reality, it’s important to know that the design will meet or exceed product design requirements and regulatory standards. To this end, let’s look again at our beer bottle. A glass bottle would be subject to ISO 7459 (Glass Containers: Thermal shock resistance) or ISO 8113 (Glass Bottles – Resistance to Vertical Load). A simple load test allows us answer important questions such as: What packaging design choices are required? How high can packaged bottles be stacked? Are the bottles sensitive to temperature extremes? By collecting all of this information, we can determine how to reduce shipping costs as well as make other adjustments that improve product success. All that from simply crushing some bottles.

Human Factors Testing

Human factors are a key part of product design. Human factors design in this case includes packaging which must be functional, align with other design elements, and be pleasant to use. Our Industrial Designers excel at this, but it’s smart to perform some testing around the human factors design effort. After design is completed, we would want to test the label. For something handled once, like a cold brew, I would limit testing to basic adhesive durability, ink indelibility, and peel testing.

Of course, we still leave the brewing itself in the brew master’s hands. SIGMADESIGN works on all sorts of projects, but we don’t brew…yet.