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Permeability of materials

Permeability of materials

The number of airships and balloons in the world is, like the products themselves, going up. But there could be a danger that without the right testing that they come right back down again. The problem is that helium leaks faster than any other gas as its molecules are smaller – and every fabric ever made lets the gas leak out to a greater or lesser extent.

So testing as part of both development and quality control is essential. This ‘seepage’ is actually a bigger problem than leaks and the ‘permeability problem’ extends far beyond the aerospace industry to include anyone manufacturing with plastics, textiles or most modern materials.  Fortunately Versaperm has developed a next-generation solution.

Versaperm’s latest developed permeability meters give an precise, fast and measurement that is accurate to the parts per million (PPM) range, PPB for some gases, fabrics and materials. It is both easy to use and highly automated. The instrument can optionally measure the permeability not just for hydrogen but also for virtually every gas in modern use – including hydrocarbons, solvents, oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour, so you can check the rates at which atmospheric gases permeate into the envelope as well as how fast helium seeps out  

The Versaperm system is said to be around 100 times faster than conventional gravimetric techniques: where gravimetric testing takes several days for a single measurement, with Versaperm’s technology the permeability of some materials can be obtained in as little as 30 minutes. The helium permeability meter is highly automated and its computerised control and multiple chambers can cope with several samples at a time, and still produce a permeability measurement in as little as 30 minutes for some materials. The equipment is designed to cater for the needs of both rapid product development and quality control. It needs very little calibration and requires, at most, minimal training.

Versaperm’s Mk VI meter provides accurate and reliable permeability results on both flat material samples and complex finished aerospace components and containers. Where a company’s throughput is not high enough to warrant purchasing a dedicated instrument, Versaperm also offers a fast turnaround laboratory measurement and consultancy service. 

The company points out that it also  manufactures gravimetric equipment built around the ISO Textile standard, which depends on this technique. 

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