Our Story

  • Overview +

    For over 100 years, Atlas has been a leader in materials testing, offering a complete line of weathering testing instrumentation, laboratory, and outdoor testing services. Atlas products are designed and manufactured to conform to international and industry standard test methods, including ISO, ASTM, DIN, JIS and numerous others. Markets include automotive, paint and coatings, plastics and additives, textiles, pharmaceutical and consumer products, architecture, aerospace, photovoltaics, and packaging.

    In addition to lightfastness and weathering instruments, Atlas also produces corrosion and flammability testing instruments and provides client education and technical consulting services worldwide.

    For much of its history Atlas Material Testing Technology LLC was privately owned by the Lane family. In 2007 it was acquired by Industrial Growth Partners and became in 2010 a business unit of AMETEK Measurement, Communications & Testing, a Division within AMETEK's Electronic Instruments Group.

    Through all these years, Atlas has been the leading innovator in natural and laboratory lightfastness and weathering technology and services, and is committed to continuing in its legacy leadership role.

  • The Early Years +

    Atlas Electric Devices Company had its roots in Chicago in the early 1900’s as the manufacturer of Solar-Lite carbon arc lighting used in photography studios and for exposing lithographic printing plates. However, in the 1910’s the electric light bulb started to replace carbon arc lamps for studio photography. Simultaneously, the Blockade of Europe beginning in 1914 choked the global supply of German aniline synthetic textile dyes, forcing the return to natural dyestuffs. A major textile color fading issue caused the Lowell Textile School, the leading institution at the time, to approach Atlas to see if carbon arc lamps, known to emit ultraviolet light, could be used to test textiles.


    In 1915 Atlas introduced the first lightfastness testing device, the Solar Determinator, and forever altered the direction of the company. Renamed and marketed as the Atlas Color Fade-Ometer in 1919, the product was enhanced and the Atlas Weather-Ometer was introduced in 1927. In 1932 the Atlas Model X-1-A “Sunshine” Carbon Arc Weather-Ometer was introduced, offering an improved spectral match to sunlight.

  • The Xenon Era +

    Similar to Atlas in Chicago, our German forefathers were experts in lighting technology, although not for stage lighting but for medical applications.


    In 1954, Hereaus in Germany introduced the XENOTEST 150, the first xenon-arc lamp based instrument which was truly a game changer. Atlas quickly followed suit, and acquired the XENOTEST GmbH from Hereaus in 1995.


    Atlas made a major technological advance with the introduction of “controlled irradiance” in the Ci-Series instruments. Today, the Ci-Series is the performance leader in weathering instruments, embodied in the latest model, the Ci4400.

  • Weathering Testing +

    In outdoor testing, the benchmark South Florida Test Service opened in 1931, and Desert Sun Exposure Testing (DSET) Laboratories started in 1948 outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Atlas acquired SFTS in 1934 and DSET in 1994.

    DSET invented outdoor accelerated weathering exposure with the creation of the EMMA device in 1960 and continues to innovate with cutting edge technologies. Atlas has also created the Worldwide Exposure Network of approximately 25 global exposure sites to facilitate client testing. Atlas operates two commercial artificial weathering test laboratories, one at corporate headquarters outside of Chicago, and at our European headquarters near Frankfurt, Germany.

  • Crash And Solar Simulation +

    K.H. Steurnagel Lichtechnik GmbH was founded in 1974 as a manufacturer of specialty metal halide based lighting systems used for both solar simulation and flicker-free high-speed crash system lighting. Atlas acquired a 50% stake in the company in 1982, and fully merged the company in the early 2000’s.