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'Expert' software & lower-cost hardware for testing/QC.

Polymer testing and quality-control instruments continue to develop in the direction of smaller, easier-to-use, more competitively priced devices. The thrust is to make QC/QA data more accessible to the daily operations of processors and compounders.

Also included in this trend is the introduction of newly enhanced "expert-system" software packages, allowing quality test data to be networked and integrated through various computer channels, permitting wider usage of the information throughout a company.

Various aspects of this trend for testing and measuring equipment were reflected by the displays at the recent Pittsburgh Conference '92 exhibition in New Orleans. The trend has been readily apparent at the two previous PittCon shows (see PT, June '90, p. 52; June '89, p. 35).


Solomat Instrumentation of Stamford, Conn., introduced its new Model 4000 Differential Scanning Calorimeter (DSC), which includes built-in software for recording basic test data and performing advanced data analysis. The unit's microprocessor can run and store up to 10 different experiments, with the capability to download data to a personal computer. Model 4000 operates as a stand-alone test unit.

The advanced software program enables the user to perform analysis such as percentage of crystallinity and purity and kinetics, while the basic software program provides the means for running and storing routine DSC tests.

The unit's silver-lined furnace offers a test temperature range from -150 to +932 F, with 176|degrees~F/min heating/cooling rates.

The cost of the Solomat DSC, including the dual software programs, is $18,000. The company also is offering a new Model 8000 DSC, an upgraded version of the Model 4000 designed to function in a multiple-DSC network. One PC can operate a network of up to 10 Model 8000 units, with software provided to monitor the status of each DSC individually. (CIRCLE 69)

TA Instruments Inc., New Castle, Del., displayed its recently introduced DSC 10 System, a lower-priced version of its standard line. The complete turnkey system costs $19,950 and includes an IBM PS/2 computer, the DSC 10 module, a module/computer interface, cooling accessory, computer software, and printer. V.P. Robert L. Hassel said the new lower-cost model represents a new direction for the company, which is usually known for higher-priced testing and measuring systems.

The company, formerly a unit of Du Pont Co., also introduced its new TGA 51 thermogravimetric analyzer. The unit, priced at $16,000, can be integrated with the DSC 10 module. (CIRCLE 70)

Perkin-Elmer Corp., Norwalk, Conn., unveiled a new integrated, turnkey thermal-analysis system that provides automated control of both DSC and TGA functions. All DSC and TGA software libraries are installed on the hard disk of the PE Model 1020 Personal Integrator controller, providing a natural expansion path for QC/QA operations. In addition to the DSC and TGA software, an automated software package known as Automode for calculating test analysis data also is embedded in the 1020 hard disk.

Company executives described the Model 1020 as an entry-level thermal-analysis system, designed to survive the rigors of a manufacturing environment. The turnkey system, including the DSC 7 and TGA 7 units, software, and printer, is priced at $26,900. (CIRCLE 71)

Thermal Sciences Div. of Polymer Laboratories Inc., Amherst, Mass., came out with a PL-Pressure DSC, which features a robust design for testing pressures up to 1200 psi. The unit has a temperature range from -160 to +1418F, with a heating rate of up to 212|degrees~F/min. The unit also features an integral cooling chamber with programmed cooling for studying reversible polymer reactions such as melting/crystallization. The system, including software, runs $35,000. (CIRCLE 72)


Beckman Instruments Inc., Fullerton, Calif., showed off its new PeakPro Revision 2.2 advanced gel-permeation chromatography (GPC) data software system. The software package is a multi-user, multi-instrument chromatography system designed to acquire, analyze and report data. The system is designed to run on VAX computers from Digital Equipment Corp., or on UNIX-based workstations. Pricing was not disclosed.

PeakPro features the capability for fast generation of custom reports, automatic archiving of method files, and complete integration with Beckman's Lab Manager LIMS (laboratory information management system). (CIRCLE 73)

The latest from the Waters Chromatography Div. of Millipore Corp., Milford, Mass., is the Millennium 2010 Chromatography Manager, a PC software system operating under Microsoft "Windows" and programmed to track and organize data from a Waters 150-CV GPC unit. Designed for quality management use for processors and compounders, the software does "track-and-trend" analysis on molecular-weight characterization, determination of intrinsic viscosities, and type and level of various additives in resin masterbatches.

Pricing for the Waters 150-CV GPC with Millennium 2010 software begins at $20,000. (CIRCLE 74)


BYK-Gardner Inc., Silver Spring, Md., has developed new "Windows"-based software for its Color-View spectrophotometer, which was introduced late last year. Color-Insights QC Manager software controls pass/fail testing, identifies trends, establishes tolerances, and generates reports.

The Color-View spectrophotometer is a 45/0|degree~ analytical instrument designed for color measurement of powders, pellets, solids and opaque liquids. It also can be configured with a 60|degrees~ glossmeter, providing simultaneous color and gloss data in one step. The test unit and new software is priced at $14,000. (CIRCLE 75)

Perkin-Elmer's System 2000 infrared spectrometer, which was unveiled late last year, represents the company's first measurement device in its new ISO 9000 product line. Starting at $30,000, the unit is designed to perform measurements and verify quality under the ISO 9000 format of international standards.

System 2000 is based on an "open architecture" design, replacing the conventional internal and external sample compartments with a new interferometer module. This new module provides up to four equivalent output beams, which can be configured with a sampling station.

In addition to System 2000, Perkin-Elmer also introduced its new QCIR quality-control software for IR spectroscopy. Brian J. McGrattan, senior technical specialist, said the software has been designed as "loading-dock" expert system for quality inspection of incoming/outgoing material and parts. He said it was especially suitable for processors looking to verify the quality of resin shipments. Priced at $1800, the new DOS-based software module is designed to work with all Perkin-Elmer IR spectroscopy units.


The new Dynamic Stress Rheometer (DSR) from Rheometrics Inc., Piscataway, N.J., is the first in the company's line of "Lab Series" quality testing products. The DSR performs viscoelastic dynamic and creep/shear recovery testing on a wide variety of polymers. The unit features a 0-752 F thermal testing range, modular snap-in tooling, and pneumatic controls. It's controlled by IBM-compatible Rhios software, a spreadsheet-based program for analyzing test data. A system package including the DSR unit, Rhios software, and a PC costs around $50,000. (CIRCLE 76)

Thermal Sciences (see above) came out with its new ACER 2000 capillary extrusion rheometer system designed to measure medium- to high-viscosity materials (including highly filled rubbers) by constant-rate extrusion through capillaries and accurate measurement of pressure drop. ACER 2000 has a temperature range of -10 to +842 F. A comprehensive software package provides analysis of rheological, viscosity, shear-stress and rate-flow curves, and presents shear heating, die swell, and hydrostatic pressure in terms of shear stress, rate and viscosity.

The total system, including software modules, computer, digital controller, and rheometer extrusion unit, is priced around $110,000. (CIRCLE 77)

New from Brookfield Engineering Laboratories Inc., Stoughton, Mass., is the Brookfield Model DV-II+ digital viscometer, which provides simultaneous measurement of resin viscosity and temperature. The unit has 18 rotational speeds and is controlled via a digital keypad. Data can be formatted to a printer or can be linked to a PC through a special software package. The system with integrated software has a base price of $4400. (CIRCLE 78)


Laboratory MicroSystems Inc., Troy, N.Y., unveiled its new LabVantage version 3.4 laboratory information management system (LIMS). LabVantage is a DOS-based software package that can gather and track data from a variety of testing instruments in order to establish a database and manage the information.

LabVantage version 3.4 is priced from $10,000 to $120,000, depending on the number of users and instruments networked into the system. The software can be tailored to meet the specific needs of customers. The company also can provide users with a complete turnkey package. (CIRCLE 79)

National Instruments, Austin, Texas, has a new LabView 2 software system for data acquisition, instrument control, and data analysis. Base-priced at $2000, the software can collect and track various test data, creating graphic display models. It also can act as the supervisory manager for programmable logic controllers (PLCs) or CNC machine controls, networking the operations of processing equipment. LabView 2 works in conjunction with the company's SCXI system, a multichannel, front-end chassis for plug-in data-acquisition boards for a PC. (CIRCLE 80)
COPYRIGHT 1992 Gardner Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Testing & QC; Technology News; quality control
Author:Gabriele, Michael C.
Publication:Plastics Technology
Date:May 1, 1992
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