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September 1, 2003

7 Min Read
Web exclusive: Measurement and testing equipment

The Preformer from AGR TopWave is designed to inspect a large number of preforms for common defects. The system can operate as a stand-alone QC and inspection center, or can be integrated with an injection molding machine to inspect all of its output.

Machines that gauge melt flow, test polymer properties, and ensure product quality?along with the labs that earn a livelihood from these machines?were out in force at NPE 2003. In some cases the equipment presented was designed for use in a production setting, in other cases it was meant for smaller scale research and development or quality control sampling. Below is equipment that was new to the market at NPE, updates to existing product lines, and products that made a first appearance at a trade show.

  • Testing Equipment

    Shimadzu brought its line of spectroscopy, physical testing, chromatography, and thermal and chemical analysis equipment to NPE 2003. According to booth personnel, the company?s latest offering is its Autograph AGS-J Series universal testing machine. It?s said to contain all necessary functions in a 26- by 20.5- by 72-inch unit. The digital LED operation panel displays force or stress and elongation or strain. Functions include automatic detection of specimen breakdown with automatic stop and crosshead return; one-touch force zero adjustment, crosshead zero positioning, and crosshead return to origin; fine positioning of the crosshead, and automatic force calibration. Forces are measured within ±1 percent of indicated values. Capacity is between 20N and 10 kN.

    Many companies at the show presented updates to existing product lines. One such update was an optional purge and automated cleaning system for the MP600 melt plastometer line from Tinius Olsen. The system is gravimetric with no motors, and is said to make meltflow testing almost automatic, yield consistent test results, and reduce operator cleaning time. The system is retrofittable with a motorized weight loading device.

    For tensile testing of polymers, Instron presented its new 3300 Series of low-cost machines. The 3300 model has a maximum load of 5 kN and a 1000-lb capacity, and the 3366 model tests polymer flex strength. Also offered was the Impulse data acquisition and analysis system, which includes a signal conditioning unit, acquisition and analysis software, and a velocity detector. A library of test methods can be matched with common test standards. Tests are easily viewed and graphed, and data can be exported to third-party packages for further analysis and reporting.

    Networked moisture analysis

    Summer?s the time for sequels, so building from the success of its Mark 2 moisture analysis system, Omnimark brought its latest, the Mark 3, to Chicago and NPE. A USB port and networking control allow greater interactivity, including the ability to go online for downloads of software and analyzer test data. Accuracy has also been improved at the low moisture range, so the Mark 3 can test PET flake as precisely as 10 ppm. A solid, proprietary alloy constitutes the monolithic balance mechanism, and temperature shielding prevents ambient elements from affecting testing. The Mark 3 reportedly has .001 percent readability and true .0001g accuracy, and it stores 300 drying procedures by alphanumeric name.

    At the Atlas Material Testing Solutions booth the news was partnerships. Atlas recently joined with Aspen Research Corp. (St. Paul, MN), where customers can do analysis of material degradation using Atlas equipment. In another venture, Atlas has been licensed to sell environmental chambers from Weiss Umwelttechnik GmbH.

    Products in Atlas? booth included the UV2000 fluorescent UV condensation weathering instrument, the Suntest line of tabletop lightfastness and weatherability screening instruments, and Xenon Arc Weather-ometers.

    The ATR Plasti-Corder computerized torque rheometer from CBW Brabender was introduced. The low-cost tabletop tester is built for research and development. It offers full two-way CAN field bus technology communications, and handles mixer/measuring heads and single-screw extrusion attachments up to 160 Nm.

    The HDT Vicat 500 AlOxide from Ceast USA Inc. is designed to perform HDT and Vicat tests at temperatures up to 500C on three independent test stations. An aluminum oxide micronized bed, kept fluid with compressed air, heats the specimens without silicon oil. The machine?s Auto-Air system automatically regulates air flow to the aluminum oxide bath to maintain temperature uniformity. The three stations are raised and lowered with a pneumatic system before and after the test?another pneumatic system applies specific weights to the specimens during the test.

    To measure heat flows and temperatures associated with transitions in a material, TA Instruments brought its DSC Q1000, a research-grade differential scanning calorimetry machine. Targeted to molders for use in quality control applications or for research and development, the machine has an intelligent 50-position autosampler and digital mass flow controllers. It is sensitive enough to test material down to .1 mg.

    A different type of testing equipment could be found at Arizona Instrument, which brought its Computrac Vapor Pro moisture analyzer. The newest model for testing moisture content in resin is portable, accepts sample sizes down to 10 mg, has a detection range down to 10 ppm or 10 µg of water, and a range of programmable start and test temperatures from 25 to 275C. There are no toxic reagents or specialized glassware, and samples are loaded automatically.

  • Product QC

    Newly enhanced with laser and touch probe options, the SmartScope Flash 200 from Optical Gaging Products was presented at NPE 2003. The benchtop video measurement system measures the profiles of preforms and other parts, and costs about $50,000 with all the options displayed at the show.

    Inoex provides gravimetric, ultrasonic, and optical sensor systems for the extrusion industry. At the show, the company presented its intelligent ultrasonic sensor (IUS) systems to measure and control wall and layer thickness, and detect flaws in extruded pipe and tubing.

    In the preform testing category, AGR Top Wave showed its Preformer inspection machine, a total quality control system for PET preforms. The system separates defective preforms from the good ones, does high-speed sorts, and is said to reduce preform jams and bottle rejections in the blowmolding machine. Up to 22,000 preforms/hr can be checked for leaks, flaws in the seal surface, and visual defects in the sidewall and base.

    Optical Gaging Products Inc. also presented a new-to-market preform and product tester, the SmartScope Flash 200. The system measures profiles and tolerances of threaded tops and compares data points to CAD drawings or actual products. Accuracy of ±12 µm and a 12x zoom lens and color camera provide high resolution optical imaging. Four light sources accommodate a range of parts, illuminating from different angles for different effects. The base is built for preforms, but different bases are available. Touch probe and laser options further extend functionality.

    The Film Quality Testing System FT-5 from Optical Control Systems GmbH automates quality control for film by detecting impurities and holes. The system can distinguish between gels and black specs in 10 adjustable class sizes. The smallest is at a standard resolution of 20 µm. Potential defects can be defined in advance so that the system recognizes and records them. At short intervals a camera takes shots of the moving film, which are processed by the computer. Software stores data according to time, date, and length of the inspected material.

  • Testing Labs

    In addition to equipment companies, testing labs also made an appearance at NPE. Specialized Technology Resources Inc. (Enfield, CT) announced its new bottle-testing capability at the show, with impact drop testing of bottles to ASTM D2463 and PBI 4-1968 standards. The company also does transit drop testing of the packages in which bottles are packed.

    OCM Test Laboratories Inc. (Anaheim, CA) tests advanced composites, elastomers, plastics, adhesives, and foams. Testing services include mechanical, environmental, chemical, physical, thermal, and other special and custom services.

    Impact Analytical (Midland, MI) offered its problem-solving laboratory capabilities at the show, with expertise in process engineering, packaging, and physical properties testing. Services include characterization of unknown materials, permeability testing, competitive product analysis, identification of impurities, investigation of product failures, and supplier certification.

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