Selecting a Textile Testing Lab
By Carrie Gray
Selecting a textile testing lab can be a daunting task. The decision must make good business sense with cost, logistics, turnaround time, and more. The lab you choose must also provide accurate and useful data. There are three main areas of focus when looking for a textile testing lab that fits your needs. Expertise, accuracy, and precision.
First and foremost, a lab needs to have the ability to perform the testing required. Labs can be very specialized, focusing on a small area of testing services, or adept at evaluating a wide array of products. If the testing required is a commonly performed standard method, it can be an easy question of availability. Customized testing or modification to standardized methods may require a consultation to develop a custom test method or deviations from a current test method. Regardless, the lab should have experience conducting the evaluations.
Labs should have precision and accuracy. If we think of lab results like a game of darts, the results should be clustered closely together—precision, and on the bullseye—accuracy. Labs with ISO 17025 accreditation will generally have world class processes in place to help ensure precision and accuracy. Additionally, the tests needed must also be within their scope of accreditation.
Regardless as to whether the lab is accredited, the lab should have a calibration program in place. Without calibration, even a perfect operator can get skewed results. The equipment needs to be in good working order and calibrated regularly. Some equipment requires professional calibration while others are accurate with calibration done in house to statistical guidelines. Asking about the calibration and maintenance of the equipment used can provide valuable insights to a lab’s commitment to accuracy.
Proficiency testing programs allow labs to anonymously compare their testing results against several others. The programs ship new samples, instructions, and a data sheet with each cycle. Each participating lab has a code to identify their information while remaining anonymous in the report. New samples are curated for each cycle to provide meaningful results and promote continuous improvement.
AATCC members may download the AATCC guide on Selecting a Testing Lab for free!
For a specific list of commercial textile testing labs, AATCC members can login to AATCC Members Technical page. Under “Testing Resources” navigate to “Textile Testing Labs”. This list is a compilation of labs that participate in the AATCC Proficiency Testing Program and have elected to be included in this resource. Please note that AATCC does not endorse these or any other labs.
Find more information about AATCC Proficiency Testing Programs here. For calibrating spectrophotometers for textiles, please see our UV Calibration Reference Fabric here.