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Physical Testing vs. Chemical Analysis

At SGS PSI, we’re proud of our over three decades of experience in independent testing here in Southwest Virginia. Our vast testing capabilities  and in-house experts are constantly designing innovative solutions for the problems our clients bring us everyday.

From our labs in Christiansburg, we are equipped to handle a wide array of testing needs. From physical testing of materials to in-depth chemical analysis, our scientists specialize in a wide variety of testing environments.

Today, we want to talk about one topic that comes up a lot: the difference between chemical analysis and physical testing. Often, we utilize both of these in cohesive ways to provide the best possible information for our clients; however, the distinction between the two is very important.

Our very own Chromatography Scientist II, Gavin Smith, sums it up for us: “For some customers, all they need to know is how their product performs, and that’s exactly what physical testing tells them. When we need to know why the product behaves a certain way, chemical analysis must be performed.”

Gavin goes on to say, “Physical testing provides the how, chemical analysis provides the why.” Sometimes, a client needs to know if a product performs the way it was designed. Other times, though, that same client may need to know why a product fails to perform its intended purpose.

Physical testing determines properties at a macroscopic level. On the other hand, chemical analysis looks more into materials at a microscopic level, analyzing these same substances for things like chemical structure, elemental composition, and spectral characteristics.

Even though these two methods of analysis differ greatly in what they test for, they don’t have to exist independently of each other. For instance, we may use Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) to test for unknown contaminants or impurities. This analysis can then tell us the exact chemical structure of the substance and its contaminants; however, you may also want to know how these impurities impact a material’s physical characteristics, like strength or density.

Used in concert, physical testing and chemical analysis can solve many problems we regularly see from our clients across various industries. Our in-house capabilities can tell you everything from the exact chemical compositions of substances to the strengths of many industrial materials. With all of these services under one roof, we are equipped to perform tests with fast turnaround times when needed.

Our long-standing experience as Polymer Solutions and new capabilities as part of the larger SGS family makes us very excited to offer the best possible experience for our clients. So for all your independent testing needs, get in touch today!