Opened in 1999, the SFI Test Laboratory was founded in Escondido, California to serve the needs of SFI participating manufacturers looking to test their products in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The current SFI Test Lab resides in Poway, CA about five miles south of SFI Headquarters.
The test procedures in SFI Specs are devised to simulate (as much as possible) real world conditions in a laboratory environment. Some specs will contain multiple test procedures to test different aspects of the single product. For example, it might have to withstand a particular strength test as well as be flame resistant. Various test procedures for all of the specs can necessitate many different test fixtures.
The SFI Laboratory can test for a majority of the SFI Specs.
There is a heat and flame resistance station that consists of a Thermal Protective Performance (TPP) machine, vertical and horizontal flammability cabinets, and a 500ଂ forced circulating air oven. The primary function of these fixtures is to test personal protective equipment like driver suits, shoes, and gloves. However, they are also used for non-garment items such as stock car shifter boots and carbon fiber interior panels.
The SFI Lab also has an automated body block machine dedicated exclusively to testing the strength of complete seatbelt assemblies. This fixture gets quite a workout with over 50 participating seatbelt manufacturers and hundreds of individual certified harness models that have to be retested every 2 years.
To check the mechanical properties of metals used in hard parts like clutch assemblies and flywheels, the lab has a tensile tester. It’s also used for testing products unique to SFI specs such as strength loading of supercharger restraint devices and top fuel wing assemblies.
Sometimes a brand new spec will require a fixture to be invented for a test procedure that never before existed. One example of this is the stock car seat tester. Only two of these exist in the world, one at the SFI Lab and the other at the NASCAR R&D Tech Center. Engineers took the directive of the technical committee to develop a static machine that could apply prescribed loads to the supporting structures of the seat (head, shoulder, and pelvic areas) either simultaneously or independently. It is now used for compliance testing of stock car seats in the top three divisions of NASCAR. The SFI Test Lab prides itself on having the flexibility needed to devise custom fixtures to meet industry demands.
Examples of Services Offered by the SFI Test Lab:
• Thermal Protective Performance (TPP)
• Thermal Shrinkage and Consumption
• Horizontal and Vertical Flammability Test
• Seam Strength
• Seatbelt Assembly Body Block Test
• Webbing Abrasion and Ultimate Strength
• Mechanical Properties
• Rotational Integrity
• Stock Car Seat Strength
• Window and Roll Cage Net Penetration Resistance
• Supercharger Restraint Assembly Strength
• Top Fuel Wing Assembly Test
• And much more!