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The Science of Innovation: USG Corporate Innovation Center

Innovation is in the DNA of USG—remaining an industry leader for over a century would not be possible without it. Developing new solutions to the problems our customers face is a core tenet of our business and, like all company values, it must be nurtured to ensure continuous growth. Innovation can be found in many places throughout the various businesses, but the driving force is found within the walls of the Corporate Innovation Center (CIC).

The CIC campus is a state-of-the-art workplace with multiple buildings and laboratories utilized in the research, testing, and analysis of USG products and systems. Professionals from the fields of material science, chemical, mechanical & civil engineering, physical, inorganic & analytical chemistry, and architecture encompass over 1,200 combined years of experience within the walls of the CIC and help set USG apart from our competitors while setting the standard for innovation within the industry.

Research Facilities

One of the main goals of the USG Corporate Innovation Center is to continue innovation through in-depth research to confront modern building challenges. The multitude of laboratories within the CIC conducts research for specific products and systems to ensure that USG makes strides towards innovation.

Gypsum Panels Laboratory

Beginning with our signature product, the Gypsum Panels Lab creates and tests gypsum and wallboard products under the USG Sheetrock® Brand and USG Securock® Brand names. The research, product, and process development along with the creation of patented formulations within this lab signify an integral element of USG's stature as a recognized leader in the gypsum industry.

Ceilings Laboratory

The Ceilings Laboratory makes use of a variety of the latest in ceiling development, including the X-Technology, cast, water-felting, fiberglass, wood, and metal that contribute towards USG's cutting-edge ceiling panels. This lab is responsible for product and process development of some of our most well-known ceiling products and solutions, including USG Donn® Brand Acoustical Suspension Systems.

Performance Surfaces Laboratory

Teams in our Performance Surfaces Lab work to develop formulas for our range of finishing products. The research, innovation, and product development within this lab provide insight into manufacturing capability and regional product preferences to better direct formula development. This lab works specifically with major USG performance surface products, such as USG Sheetrock® Brand All Purpose Joint Compound.

Performance Substrates Laboratory

The Performance Substrates Lab focuses research and development efforts on the chemistry and technology of cement and composite panels. This includes products like USG Durock® Cement Board, USG STRUCTO-CRETE Panels, and USG Levelrock® Floor Underlayment.

Analytical Laboratory

USG utilizes the CIC's Analytical Lab to observe the materials that go into our products at a microscopic level to develop a more complete understanding of how they can be used in practical applications. Our chemists characterize materials using wet chemistry methods and instrumental tools such as X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, and scanning electron microscopy.

Building Sciences & Construction Systems Laboratory

The primary function of the Building Sciences & Construction Systems Laboratory is to incorporate USG products into practical construction systems while establishing performance expectations and the long-term durability of new and existing products.

By focusing on the design and evaluation of new and existing products, USG can better meet the needs of residential and commercial construction markets through large-scale fire, structural, and acoustical testing procedures.

Testing Facilities

While a primary objective of new product development and innovation at USG is to implement the most cutting-edge technologies to increase properties like sustainability, durability, and longevity, no technology is worthwhile unless it performs in real-world constructions.

Over the years, the CIC has developed significant capabilities and expertise throughout a range of fire, structural, acoustical, and analytical evaluations. These evaluations are done to support the development of new products or systems, address construction jobsite challenges, and achieve compliance with independent certification requirements, all while gaining a more in-depth understanding of certain subject areas.

Fire Testing and Evaluations

USG’s portfolio of fire-rated designs includes over 100 wall systems and 110 floor-ceiling systems—more than any other building materials manufacturer. The test equipment located on-site at the CIC includes a full-scale, pressure-controlled ASTM E119 furnace for fire-resistance testing of walls as well as furnaces for testing floor-ceiling systems and product development.

Structural Testing and Evaluations

Structural evaluations conducted at the CIC range from small- to large-scale assemblies to ensure field readiness and system integrity. These evaluations determine the wind-load capacities for exterior wall assemblies, shear capacities for walls and ceilings, limiting heights for interior partitions, service ratings for ceramic tile floor systems, abuse resistance performance of partitions, and wind uplift capacity for roof assemblies.

Acoustical Testing and Evaluations

The USG Acoustical Test Facility (ATF) is a unique lab designed to test the acoustical performance of a variety of building materials and systems. This facility is NVLAP Accredited (Laboratory Code 200132) for performing a wide range of acoustical tests, including sound absorption, transmission loss of walls, and ceiling attenuation. 

Analytical Testing and Evaluations

The Analytical lab provides high-quality chemical analysis and material characterization services, equipped with instruments to perform a variety of tests including x-ray diffraction, spectroscopy, surface area analysis, and thermal analysis. In addition, the analytical lab offers an IAS ISO 17025 Accredited Emissions Test Chamber for analysis of building products and raw materials for volatile organic compounds (VOC).