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Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

(OP)
Hi All,

I'm in the early stages of setting up a materials testing lab and would you like to hear what you recommend for purchasing new lab equipment. I'll be starting out simple (i.e. concrete - cylinder compressive tests, fresh field concrete sampling and testing, flex bend test, soil - PI, SA, CBR, LAR, Consol, compaction, field density, and asphalt - density, Gs, marshall, air content, binder content). I've performed all these tests on various brands, but was never in a position to actually purchase them so I wanted to hear what you think as the prices varies quite a bit between them.

Also, what are your thoughts on the non-nuclear density gauges? Accepted replacement for the industry standard nuclear gauge?

Thanks!

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

Very interesting question.

My question first would be: What was your business plan as you expanded your lab?

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

(OP)
The lab I'll be setting up will be a new business venture (materials lab) so I'd like to hear anyone's thoughts on equipment as far as value. I don't mind spending more for particular equipment, granted, they perform/last with consistent/accurate results (assuming properly calibrated and performed by a good lab tech). I've worked in university and private labs so i've been exposed to a variety of equipment brands (i.e. soil test, ele, humbodlt, gilson, geocomp, etc), but never needed to purchase equipment or worry about the value of the options available.

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

Of the labs I've been around I'd say they all progressed slowly, only buying what is immediately needed and then researching what is there and the features. Some may have had experience with some makes and have gained respect mainly for the service and availability. In time not all suppliers stay around.

For a starter I'd write or phone state highway department materials departments and speak with their folks that run the equipment. Corps of Engineers at Vicksburg MS may help.

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

(OP)
Thanks, appreciate the suggestions. I intend, as you suggested, buying the essential (most common tests) then proceed with the more complicated/less common tests as projects require them. I was fortunate in the past to utilize fully-automated lab equipment (i.e. triax, trial-based perm tests, consols, etc) that probably costed an arm and a leg, but because it was with university research funds, price was never really an issue. :) Do you know of any good places that offers used equipment, they seem hard to come by?

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

Somehow I am wondering about the source of business for you. I'd guess it will be a new geotech firm with the testing as a side support, which is the way most labs that I know of started. Also, they has significant prior experience with another firm where a client list of friendly acquaintances was present, not starting out cold. That's why the question about a business plan. Every owner of testing firms that I know of first had many years with an established outfit or two, not a DOT. I'm talking about the run of the mill type tests as your list implies. Getting that list of potential clients comes before much equipment is purchased.

Used equipment is not likely to be something available to any significant extent. In some cases building your own helps to do certain tests.

You didn't mention test boring rigs. Several of the firms I know also got into that early on, but not always successful. Competition can be cruel.

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

(OP)
The demand is there as well as the potential clients (networked with most of clientele). Starting out as a QC/QA testing lab seems the most feasible at first. Exploration drilling to follow as it requires a much larger upfront purchase. Been eyeing either a Boart or Simco rig. Trying to phase the services and expand as demand sees fit.

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

A promotion program usually will help, but be prepared for a long period before profits are there.

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

I'd be curious to know where you are setting-up shop...My experience has been that the various brands provide good quality at similar prices. Some items are even made by the same manufacturer and rebranded. As for value, you can skip the automated machines (pneumatic proctors, for instance) and purchase later when you have more capital.

As for non-nuclear gauges, I love the idea, but do not know of a single firm that is currently using them. I suspect they will supplant nukes in the future, but nukes took years (decades?) to gain traction and are still not completely trusted in places like Los Angeles (1-in-10 tests must be sand cones).

Best of luck.

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

I support mr Oldestguy what says. We started the geotechnical firm with supporting lab and it took three yrs to penetrate the market. Be very clear about Busness plan as mr Oldestguy said. My advice in buying equipment is good if you will find an established local company or a company which has a local agent to help you for calibration and maintenance. Some of the company wants you to send it back to them in case of just a small problem and this can cost a lot in transportation.

RE: Reviews on Material Testing Equipment (Gilson, Humboldt, Forney, Troxler, Transtech, etc)

Might be a little late, but stay away from ELE. Their customer service is terrible. Mainly, my lab tends to stick with Gilson, Humboldt or Durham Geo. We also have a Test Mark concrete compression machine which is not bad.

As for the nuke gauges, I believe the ASTM for the non-nuclear is relatively new so I think it's going to be awhile before it's widely accepted.

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