FINDLAY, Ohio—As it celebrates its 10th anniversary, Endurica L.L.C. is partnering with the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre to expand durability testing capabilities.
The partnership will provide a new source for material modeling parameters and analysis, and future training events, Endurica Founder William Mars said.
As the company has grown, some customers have brought Endurica testing equipment and software for vulcanized rubber into their labs, such as the Tenneco Inc. lab in Milan, Ohio.
"A lot of companies that use our software maybe don't have those kinds of resources, so it's nice to have a lab where they can offer that as a service," Mars said.
Endurica already has testing lab partners in Michigan, China and Spain, and the agreement with TARRC, based in Hertford, England, provides another location in Europe.
"The idea is to give people some geographic support, and also to make people feel not single-sourced, which makes the results more reliable," Mars said. "When people ask about where you get the numbers for your code, it's not just depending on one guy at one machine sitting at one place. There's a whole supply network behind it.
"We're starting to be a global company. We're small, but we're everywhere."
Endurica has been working with TARRC to set up a partnership for about two years, as the process of setting up and validating testing procedures has taken some time, Mars said. One focus has been making certain that what's produced from one lab across the Atlantic is equivalent to what's found anywhere else in the network.
"They're not just buying a data set," Mars said. "They're buying the promise that this is the method that's been standardized in a certain way."
The testing capabilities include eight different experimental modules, each looking at a subset of the physics, Mars said. The lab offers a set of basic modules that are run for almost all rubber samples, but it also has more specialized modules that can be directed more toward a particular application such as a tire, seal or medical device. The modules also include aspects like intrinsic strength, temperature, aging effects and strain crystallization.
"All these modules, when we take these measurements, they measure parameters that we can put into the code, so you can make the code behave very specifically like your rubber compound," Mars said.
History with TARRC
The expansion will be run by existing TARRC staff, and will add to the testing supply available especially for European clients, he said.
Mars is especially proud to make this connection with TARRC, as a lot of what is in Endurica's code was inspired by ideas coming from that lab, he said.
TARRC pioneered the field of fatigue and fracture for elastomers, with foundational work by Ronald Rivlin and Alan Thomas in 1953, Mars said in an Endurica news release. Mars worked with TARRC from 2001-04 on a joint industry project focused on fatigue life prediction.
"It was very natural to have them, they obviously know what they're doing and what kind of measurements we need," Mars said. "We've kind of known that this was the right thing. It was all a matter of the powers that be agreeing that this makes sense to do."
In the past, the difficulty of obtaining material property information has been a barrier in routinely running fatigue simulations during product development, Alan Muhr, TARRC engineering unit head, said in the news release. Testing methods and analysis workflow were not optimized to effectively work with variable amplitude loading scenarios.
"Endurica has provided a way forward that enables durability simulation to become a routine practice for organizations," Muhr said. "With this partnership, TARRC is strengthening its position to serve this market."
TARRC also will provide training for clients, including three classes offered by Endurica, Mars said. The first class covers characterization, a three-day class with an overview of the experiments done to gather measurements in testing and the strategy for how they're used. Because fatigue testing can be so time- and resource-intensive, doing it effectively takes planning.
"It's really important to be strategic about how you design fatigue tests so they're productive, so they minimize scatter in the test," Mars said. "That's what our characterization test is all about. It's testing strategy, and what you should measure."
Endurica's analysis class covers its software, and how to build a computer model of a rubber product with the measurements gathered in a lab, he said.
"We talk about how to take that information, put it all into a simulation, get everything calibrated and then apply the real-world load," Mars said.
The last class is a compounding class for durability, which is a discussion of the material science end of the process, he said. If a client is designing a rubber compound and needs to know about the polymer selection or filler, the class focuses on how those choices are made.
"It's meant to span different groups in a company, but it's a complete workflow that goes across the whole organization," he said. "At the end of it, what comes out is hopefully really good decisions about what things will either help or hurt you from a durability standpoint."
Endurica hopes to add "one or two more" locations to the list after TARRC in the future, Mars said.
Changing industry needs
The company marks its 10-year anniversary this year, moving past the stage of "early adopters" and seeing results as customers incorporate the testing methods into processes, Mars said.
"I wouldn't say that we've quite taken the whole world, but we've changed in the last 10 years," he said.
Original equipment manufacturers have started using Endurica software more reliably and transparently, Mars said. In the past, manufacturers each had their own method for testing durability, but the OEMs rarely had control or a way to audit those processes.
"One thing that (OEMs) like about Endurica is that in some ways it levels that field," Mars said. "I think people thought maintaining that capability in-house was somehow a competitive advantage as your proprietary thing, but that's changing now because the OEMs also want to get in on it."
Bringing durability testing to the forefront in the last few years has given the industry more tools to work with in making better engineering choices in projects such as lightweighting, he said.
"The opportunity for the industry is, there's a lot of suboptimal decisions made for durability," he said. "By getting these things tied down, we're going to be able to optimize durability like we never did before.
As the computational capabilities have expanded over time, the demand is rising to match, he said.
"Expectations are higher than they were 10 years ago, and we can do more," Mars said. "We can do problems now that 10 years ago, people could only dream of.
"We can be extremely specific. You can drive down a bumpy road, make a recording of the loads and play them into the simulation. I can tell you exactly when the part's going to break, where it's going to break and how it's going to break."
Endurica just launched a new capability called the Efficient Interpolation Engine, which helps run models faster, Mars said. In some applications, where clients want to run the models in real-time for operational reasons, the tool can come in handy. For example, with a flex joint being used in the middle of the ocean, predicting maintenance would be difficult.
"You're not designing the part, but you want to know, when a storm comes through, how much damage is done to the part?" he said.
To do that, it requires streaming loads off of the part and in real time, keep track of the state of the part, he said. EIE helps as an enabling technology for that application, allowing those models to be run much more quickly. In classic workflow, depending on the size of the simulation, it might take a day to run.
"Especially in an operational context, you wouldn't have that much time to run the models," Mars said.
EIE takes some pre-calculated solutions and interpolates them in such a way that a model can be run about 100 times faster than the classic way of doing it, Mars said.
"It opens up pathways for other applications," he said. "In the tire world, people want to do fleets of trucks and keep track of the damage on each individual tire. We can't do that today, but that's the direction we're headed."
Endurica, based in Findlay, Ohio, has six employees, and has plans for growth and hires in the future, though Mars did not disclose any details.