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RJ Lee Group 19 min read

5 Ways Material Innovation & Testing Drives Product Development


RJ Lee Group

A perfect storm of pressures is forcing product developers and manufacturers to accelerate material innovation: A continuous desire to lower costs, supply chain challenges that became particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, and constantly emerging regulations.

By exploring new materials and rigorous testing methods, companies can uncover opportunities to improve product quality, reduce production costs, and meet stringent environmental and safety regulations. This not only aids in compliance but also drives innovation, enabling the creation of products that are both cutting-edge and market-ready.

Recognizing the challenges and opportunities that alternative material sourcing presents, it's clear that thorough material testing is not just a hurdle to overcome but a strategic advantage. Using material testing to find the best materials to address these challenges ensures you can maintain competitiveness and ensure sustainable growth in a fast-paced market.

In this article, we highlight the pivotal role of material testing and discuss five ways material innovation drives successful product development.

1. Maintain Consistent Material Quality

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a new era of supply chain delays and logistical challenges, bringing material supply chain diversification top of mind for many manufacturers. Post-pandemic, manufacturing supply chains are simply more diverse than ever before.

Today, alternative sourcing is a crucial way manufacturers adapt, save money, and drive innovation. However, when sourcing from many suppliers, the quality of materials has to remain consistent to maintain quality.

For instance, spectroscopy is one testing technique that can help with material quality. This technique, which involves analyzing the interaction of light with materials, can determine the composition and quality of a wide range of substances. A spectroscopy testing lab can identify whether the materials meet their stringent specifications for consistency and purity.

2. Gain a Competitive Edge with Sustainable Materials

The customer desire for sustainable products is a major driver of current material trends. Additionally, federal funding incentivizes many industrial manufacturers to add products that offset carbon emissions to their portfolios.

Ignoring the shift to sustainable materials risks future competitiveness and compliance. Transitioning away from traditional materials aligns with regulatory demands and appeals to eco-conscious consumers, offering a significant market edge. Investing in green practices reduces long-term costs and boosts brand value, making it a strategic necessity for industry leaders.

Transitioning to sustainable materials requires high initial costs. However, partnering with another company or expanding into adjacent verticals like lightweight materials can make material innovation pragmatic and strategic for growth. Expect nanomaterials and lightweights to lead as companies transition to sustainable, in-demand materials in the next few years.

Fact: Nanomaterials are a cost-effective and sustainable option for manufacturers everywhere. Because nanomaterials can be fine-tuned across several properties, from size to synthesis conditions, manufacturers should have precise specifications for using nanomaterials in certain products.

3. Ensure Regulatory Compliance and Environmental Responsibility

Sustainability isn’t the only driving factor behind new materials in manufacturing. With the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed PFAS regulations, many manufacturers are looking for alternatives to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Organizations may get ahead of these regulations by sourcing alternative materials so PFAS can be grandfathered out of production entirely. With the introduction of PFAS alternatives, there will be the need to test these materials to ensure consistent material quality and reduced product failure.

Benefits of bringing smart technology into manufacturing
Deloitte: Benefits of bringing smart technology into manufacturing

4. Reduce Product Failure Through Rigorous Testing

95% of new products fail. Products may fail due to poor material selection, environmental stress, or a lack of thorough material quality QA. How can you prevent your product from failing?  Frequent and thorough testing are guardrails to ensuring new, high-quality material is unlikely to fail.

Additionally, failure prevention strategies like these can reduce the risk of product failure significantly:

  • Get familiar with the properties of the materials you’re looking at.

  • Define the priority of your product. For example, would you rather have a sleek look or a product that lasts 15 years instead of 10?

  • Test early and often.

  • Consult with a materials analysis expert. Stringent materials testing will help prevent unexpected damage due to design flaws and poor material selection.

  • Get customer feedback during product development and testing.

  • Research your target market. Understand if the demand is there for your product.

Failure analysis testing is a vital way to determine the underlying cause of product failure with the goal of eliminating the problem. For example, why did a medical device corrode prematurely in the body, leading to unforeseen complications? A failure analysis framework takes these steps to identify, solve, and prevent the problem from happening again:

  • Note the apparent issue and collect data.

  • Identify the mechanisms and means through which damage occurred.

  • Testing for the mechanisms that led to the failure.

  • Identifying potential root causes of failure.

  • Confirming possible cause-effect relationships.

  • Testing the suspected root cause.

  • Implementing corrective and preventative actions.

With product development regulations in place, from customer feedback throughout testing to failure analysis, you can continually improve your product to meet customer needs.

5. Integrate Continuous Improvement Into the Product Lifecycle

Incorporating customer insights and feedback into the product development process is paramount, driving the evolution of products to better match market expectations. How does your material selection and testing strategy align with consumer demands for quality and sustainability? Manufacturers must consider their approach to material innovation as a core part of product lifecycle management.

Balancing the trifecta of innovation, cost-efficiency, and safety becomes more complex as materials evolve. The right material choice and rigorous testing can mitigate risks and enhance product appeal, but require a strategic vision that prioritizes long-term market presence over short-term gains.

As the industry leans towards sustainability and efficiency, integrating continuous improvement with a keen focus on material selection and testing is not just strategic—it's essential. This integration ensures that products are not only developed to meet current standards but are also adaptable to future market shifts, setting a benchmark for success in an ever-changing landscape.

Don’t Wait to Receive Scientific Support During Product Development

As you navigate the complexities of product development in today's competitive landscape, remember that excellence in material innovation and testing is your ally. RJ Lee Group stands at the forefront, ready to amplify your efforts with unparalleled scientific support. We're not just a testing laboratory, we're your strategic partners in achieving compliance, innovation, and cost-efficiency.

Our expertise is your advantage in crafting products that lead the market not just today, but well into the future. Don't let the intricacies of development dampen your vision—RJ Lee Group is here to ensure your journey from concept to consumer is both seamless and successful. Let's redefine excellence together.

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