After completing its move of plastics testing laboratories in Ann Arbor and Ontario to a new site in Ypsilanti, NSF International is gearing up to begin drinking water material safety testing of plastic pipes and other products in Brazil and China.
That is, once travel bans are lifted.
Brazil has legislation pending to approve a standard for drinking water material safety, equivalent to what is required in the U.S., said Dave Purkiss, vice president of global water systems for NSF, a global public health and safety nonprofit. And that's providing opportunity to expand the testing of plastic pipes and other products that come in contact with drinking water, including treatment equipment, pipes, large valves and anything else used by a city drinking water treatment facility.
Chinese manufacturers of the pipes are exporting them to the U.S. and need testing to ensure they meet safety standards here, Purkiss said.
"Once we can get people back and forth again between Detroit and Shanghiai (for training), then we'll be in business. ... hopefully, before the end of the year."
Launched at the University of Michigan in 1944, NSF later spun off into an independent nonprofit.
Here in Michigan, it invested $3.7 million to build out the new, larger, 20,000-square-foot Willow Run Laboratory. The site employs 17, including five people who transferred from Ontario last year and a couple of new hires.
Purkiss said exiting a costly lease at its lab near Toronto saved money, though he could not say how much.
The expanded location brings together all of NSF's plastics testing and certification capabilities, including advanced chemical and structural testing on plastic pipes, fittings and valves, metal fittings and components, manifolds, solvent cements, thread sealants, PVC ingredients and plastic materials for global applications.
"By bringing NSF's laboratories under one roof, we are offering greater ease to our global clients, providing advanced plastic pipe, fitting and material testing, and establishing Southeast Michigan as the heart of the plastic piping testing industry," Purkiss said.
The new Willow Run lab expanded NSF's plastics testing capacity by up to 50 percent, he said, which allows for faster turnaround of pipe testing for customers and enables them to get products to market much faster. NSF does testing for about 200 plastic pipe manufacturers, including Uponor and Ipex.
It tests piping used for drinking water and waste water, ensuring pipe materials aren't adding contaminants to drinking water and assessing the longterm affects of chlorine and pressure. It also tests similar pipes made by the same manufacturers for use in transporting gas and housing electrical wiring.