The BBE date is derived from the date where the product is manufactured. In general, we give a 5-year shelf life to bulk materials, and a 3-year shelf life to aerosol and aqueous ink concentrates. These time frames are derived from understanding the range of normal conditions that our products will be stored in. In reality:
We would not expect to see any deviation from the manufacturing specifications (AMS and ISO) on unopened products, so the shelf life should be regarded with a degree of common sense. We recommend carrying out basic quality control tests in-house to ensure acceptable appearance and performance BEFORE adding to in-use material. After that, your routine procedures should ensure no problems are experienced. Once a product enters use, then you can use a process check/comparison product (for example, test pieces/panels) or, alternatively, use the PeneCert Service for external laboratory assessment on penetrants.
Dry powder developers
These can be inspected yourself when they are first opened. If there are no visible signs of contamination, clumping, etc, a small off-line test using a test piece should give an indication as to whether or not the product is OK to use.
By their very nature, aerosol cans are sealed containers that do not allow contamination to enter. However, it is important to note that the limiting factor which necessitates a BBE date is propellant loss – normally on account of poor storage or handling conditions which allow decompression of the can. If an aerosol works well after its BBE, then it is probably OK to use, but should be used as soon as possible. Experience also shows that developers are more likely to fail on account of the particulate content, which settles on standing. Failure to shake a can properly can lead to the nozzles blocking.