Surface Characterization and Measurement:

3D Scanners
We have three 3D scanners that we use to document cultural heritage objects and create three dimensional renderings and videos. Outputs of these scans can include interactive PDFs where users can spin the image of an object and video walk-throughs of buildings. Each of the three scanners is used for a different size of object; the combined suite of scanners makes it possible for us to document objects that range from projectile points to buildings.

This instrument is used to visually inspect small, hard to reach locations. This is particularly useful when an area can not be accessed for inspection without potential damage to the object.

This instrument is used to objectively measure the color (hue, value, chroma) of a surface. This is a useful measurement for comparison in experiments examining surface appearance changes before and after treatments or weathering. We commonly use calculations from these data to determine the absolute change in a sample’s color across the duration of an experiment.

This instrument is used to measure the reflectivity or shininess of a surface. This is a useful measurement for comparison in experiments examining surface appearance changes before and after treatments or weathering.

We have a suite of microscopes that allow us to examine samples under both transmitted and reflected light at high magnification. The microscopes vary in size from a stereo boom to hand-held USB.

Opacity Meter
This instrument is used to measure the clarity or transparency of a coating. Typically this is measured on Leneta paper to measure the coating’s opacity on a calibrated white and black surface.

This instrument is used to quantitatively measure light, it can measure the intensity (LUX) value is a light source as well as break down the color bands of that light source. It can also be used to measure the wavelength of different light sources and their UV bands and intensity.

We have two profilometers, which are tools used for mapping surface topography and texture. One instrument uses optical white-light, and the other uses a laser to take readings.

Thickness Gauge
These instruments measure the thickness of a coating on a surface. One example is the Fisher Scope that measures the coating thickness when applied to ferrous metal surfaces.

Chemical Characterization:

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR)
This instrument is used for a range of chemical analyses including determining the chemical composition of materials, quantifying the presence (or absence) of contaminants, and studying how materials break down chemically.

Ion Chromatography
This instrument is used for the separation and quantification of charged particles (ions such as Na+) in solution.

Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer (py-GC/MS)
This instrument is used to identify the chemical composition of materials such as paints, coatings and adhesives.

Portable X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (pXRF)
This instrument is used for determining the elemental composition of a material; it is non-destructive, non-invasive and portable.

UV-Vis Spectrometer
This instrument is used for characterizing liquid or solid materials by how they absorb UV and visible light.

X-Ray Diffraction Spectrometer
This instrument is used for determining the elemental and crystalline composition of a powdered sample. We use this for characterization of materials such as stone, mortar, and brick.

Weathering Simulation Instruments:

Corrosion Chamber
This instrument allows us to conduct experiments in simulated environments, including salt mists or smog conditions. This is useful for understanding how materials or coatings will behave in certain climates.

Freeze Thaw Chamber
The Freeze Thaw Chamber is an insulated chamber that allows us to conduct controlled climate experiments to examine how materials behave under different conditions. This chamber can be used to simulate stressing conditions such as freeze-thaw cycles or humidity fluctuations.

Roof Racks
North-western Louisiana experiences some of the strongest UV radiation in the United States. We have mounted sample racks to the roof of our building so that we can conduct outdoor sample weathering experiments. The sample racks are angled to maximize UV exposure to the samples.

We have two weatherometer instruments that are used for accelerated weathering experiments. These instruments allow us to expose samples to intense UV light, heat and moisture and simulate worst-case-scenarios.

Materials Characteristics Tests:

Falling Sand Test
This instrument is used to test how well coatings—varnishes, paints, lacquers, etc.—stand up to abrasion. Understanding how coatings deteriorate due to abrasion can be useful, particularly for coatings on outdoor objects and buildings that may be subject to abrasion due to winds carrying fine particles.

This instrument is used to measure the contact angle of a drop of water on a surface. This data helps us determine the wettability of a surface, which affects the degree to which the drop of water beads up or spreads out.

Hammer Drill Coring for Salinity Tests
This technique is used to take a core sample for testing the concentrations of salt in a structure.

Moisture Meters
These instruments are used to measure the presence of water in a substrate. We frequently use one to test for moisture in masonry structures that may be affecting the movement of salts or the way the building envelope breathes. We also have meters to measure the amount of moisture in wood.

Pull Test
This test is used to determine the adhesion-strength of coatings, such as paint or primer on wood.

This test is used to determine the absorptivity of materials by measuring the length of time it takes a material to soak up 1 mL of water. This test is used particularly for building materials to see how quickly they will take on water/moisture.

Versa Testers
These instruments are used to test and measure the mechanical properties of materials such as compressive strength and torsion strength. We have two systems to handle different sizes of samples.

Water Vapor Transmission
This test is used to determine how well water vapor can travel through a material. This is important for considering how a building breathes and responds to different internal and external environmental conditions.

Other Instruments:

3D Printer
Our 3D printer is used to create replica or scaled objects in plastic; these objects can be weighted or painted to more closely resemble the original object scanned.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
This instrument is used to examine and map variations in density of structures/features in the ground.

This instrument is used to clean artifacts and objects. It requires that the base material and the material being removed (e.g. rust, coatings) have different compositions.

Milling Machine
Our milling machine is used to make 3D objects (parts, signs, replicas, scale models) by cutting material away from a solid block.

Sample Preparation Equipment
We have a suite of power and hand tools for cutting, grinding, polishing, coring and mounting samples for analysis.

Temperature and Humidity Data Loggers
These instruments are used to measure and record relative humidity and temperature over extended periods of time.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119