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North-East company’s £100,000 investment


A NORTH-EAST engineering company is hoping to win new contracts in the aerospace and off-shore industries after investing £100,000 in cutting edge equipment.

Axiom Engineering Associates has replaced or upgraded equipment in its laboratories to help it achieve the seal of approval from UKAS, the national licensing body which assesses testing, inspection and calibration services.

The Stockton-based company, which is already one of the world’s leading forensic materials science consultancies, believes the prestigious accreditation will allow it to attract more clients in the aerospace and off-shore industries.

Among the new additions are a £50,000 scanning electron microscope (SEM) which allows Axiom’s experts to magnify materials up to 200,000 times so they can study fractures and deterioration.

Company founder Dr René Hoyle explained: “Normally we work in the 20-10,000 range of magnification so we can examine the peaks and troughs of a fracture.

“The scanning electron microscope has a much greater depth-of-field than an ordinary microscope which allows us to see more of the fracture in minute three-dimensional detail.”

The machine also allows Axiom’s experts to carry out energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, a method which utilises the energy given off by electrons to analyse the composition of materials.

The new machine replaces an older electron microscope which had reached the end of its service life and Axiom is already putting it to good use.

So far, the new addition has helped solve a pipe failure at a steam generating plant, identified a mysterious yellow substance blighting a waste-energy boiler plant and helped examine the effect of temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees centigrade on thin metal foils.

Axiom – which employs 42 people at its headquarters in Bowesfield Crescent – has also invested a further £50,000 in other state-of-the-art equipment to ensure it remains at the forefront of materials analysis.

Dr Hoyle said he was confident the investment would help Axiom achieve the official seal of approval from the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) for its laboratories before the end of the year.

“As part of the accreditation process UKAS looks at every aspect of what we do,” he added. “No stone is left unturned, which is why it is so valuable to a company like ours. UKAS accreditation for the labs will help us to win a significant amount of new business.”