Providing worldwide interlaboratory testing since 1971
 

 

CTS Fasteners & Metals Program History
 

For those involved with metals and fasteners, including raw material manufacturers, product manufacturers, fastener manufacturers, and independent testing laboratories, quality of measurements has always been critical to final product quality. Previously, many laboratories only used in-house control samples to monitor instrument performance. Although this practice helped maintain consistent measurements, it did not address measurement agreement with outside laboratories. In addition, as the manufacturing process and customer markets became more and more global, the need for better measurement control became more and more essential.

Concurrently, in the late 1980s the Naval Shipyard (NSY) laboratories were working with the American Association of Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) to determine what sort of accreditation was available and appropriate. Naturally the topic of proficiency testing as a requirement of accreditation came up. At that time there were no formal metals testing programs. Some trade associations with very narrow focuses had periodically conducted round robins, but nothing on-going or large-scale. By 1988 CTS’ reputation as a provider of statistically sound interlaboratory programs was well established. Even though CTS at that time did not have a history of starting up new programs “from scratch” as it were, that fact did not stop A2LA from recommending CTS to the NSY laboratories. So CTS, working with both groups, developed a program – initially called the Metals Collaborative Reference Program – for the NSY laboratories and their suppliers. However, all parties recognized from the start that any such program would ultimately require a broader base of participants and that CTS could not limit the materials to metals used in saltwater applications.

Almost immediately the tests offered and materials used in the program were applicable to a multitude of industries; the number of participating labs grew exponentially. In 1990, in response to pending federal legislation for fasteners, appropriate tests were added to the metals program to accommodate the needs of the fasteners industry. The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP), as well as A2LA, were instrumental in helping to establish the requirements for fastener testing.

Today, the CTS Fasteners & Metals Program has a very significant international presence: more than 600 laboratories worldwide currently participate. As the program continues to evolve and expand, accreditation requirements remain the strongest influence on the program. A key differentiator for the Fasteners & Metals program: half of the tests are not destructive – labs can keep the samples for their own use and/or re-check if they are flagged. For those labs whose destructive test results are flagged, re-test samples are available. These benefits, combined with the fact that new tests are added periodically as the needs of the industries change, ensure the program’s status as the world’s premier fasteners and metals proficiency testing program.
 
 
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