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There’s never been a better time to outfit your lab or QC inspectors with testing and measuring instruments. More affordable equipment, greater ease of use, and improved functionality in smaller packages are some of the benefits to look for in everything from mechanical testers to rheometers, moisture analyzers, color and gloss meters, and accelerated weathering units.
Good news for small and medium-sized processors: For just $17,900, Instron is offering a new package of mechanical test frame with digital servo control, grips, fixtures, PC control station, and testing software. Admet is also offering a line of smaller, less expensive tabletop “universal” testers. And Mecmesin, a British firm with a new U.S. direct sales force, is bringing out single- and dual-column mechanical testers designed for QC right on the production floor.
In a similar vein, Profile Solutions is showing new “budge” leak testers for large containers (5 to 220 liters). And Davinor is showcasing its economical, semiautomatic LayerGauge 16 for fast off-line thickness measurement of layers in coextruded films. And GTI Graphic Technology is featuring new MiniMatcher color-inspection systems that are said to be affordable, compact viewing booths with multiple light sources.
Dynisco’s new APA2000 polymer analyzer is a unique type of oscillating-die rheometer that now, for the first time, is suitable for testing thermoplastics as well as thermosets. It reportedly provides more information about processing characteristics of resins—data that previously required two or more instruments at much higher cost.
Byk-Gardner’s recently introduced Spectro-guide is said to be the first hand-held QC instrument to measure color and gloss simultaneously. Equitech is showing what it calls the first commercial system for real-time on-line measuring of color in the melt stream of an extruder. X-Rite is showing its new VeriColor Spectro on-line spectrophotometer that rejects ambient light so that its measuring head needs no special lighting or shrouding.
And the news from GretagMacbeth is the Color i 7—reportedly the first spectrophotometer to have a built-in profiling or calibration function. The instrument prompts the operator to verify calibration, which can be affected by environmental conditions such as dust and humidity. If color drift is detected, the operator can quickly and easily correct the instrument himself through NetProfile, GretagMacbeth’s internet-based software, before further color measurements are made.
Among several interesting introductions in vision inspection is AGR TopWave’s PETWallplus, which combines its non-contact, wall-thickness monitoring system for PET container manufacturers with a high precision camera-based inspection system.
Cognex is featuring new software that expands the capabilities of its SmartView web-inspection systems, allowing for evaluation of surface qualities such as smoothness, roughness, patterning, and texture. Cognex also has a new remote-head camera version of its In-Sight 5400 vision sensor for cases where mounting space is limited. And a new non-contact optical measuring system for shop-floor QC is being unveiled by Vision Engineering.