Spotlight – Perfect process
Increased focus on specialised processing can ensure getting the best out of your products. This month, Khai Trung Le looks at the latest technology in materials processing.
Suitable for acid production, mineral processing and alkylation, among others, the LiquiSonic analyser by SensoTech GmbH, Germany, is able to precisely determine the acid strength of sulphuric acid and oleum via sonic velocity measurement, bypassing physical difficulties to analysing these substances. Accuracy of results is up to 0.03wt%, with a real-time display and indicators to warn users of critical process thresholds, and data can be transferred via 4-20 mA signal, fieldbus or Ethernet.
Installed directly into the vessel, the LiquiSonic is made of Hastelloy C-2000 nickel alloy, rendering it resistant to corrosion, and construction requires no gaskets or moving parts, reducing the need for maintenance and improving long-term stability.
Excelitas, also known as Qioptiq Ltd in the UK, has unveiled the OmniCure AC8225-F, specifically designed for fibre curing applications. The system is capable of delivering 12W/cm2 peak irradiance and uniformity at a work distance of 10–18mm, with adjustable output and is also stated to reduce electricity consumption by up to 60% over traditional arc lamp systems.
The OmniCure series uses air-cooled LED technology to enable compact design and ease of integration into production lines, eliminating the need for retooling, external cooling or ozone extraction.
Milacron has released an update to the E-Multi, an auxiliary injection unit, with several enhancements and an updated software package. The device is described by the manufacturer as an all-electric, servomotor-driven, mould or plate mounted, auxiliary injection unit for multi-material applications. The E-Multi has been designed to be implemented with injection moulding machines regardless of brand.
A new carriage has been fitted into the moulding area, with a relocated spring pack for increased tie-bar clearance and increasing the nozzle protrusion adjustment from +/- 5mm to +/- 15mm. The software improvements include automatic carriage calibration, varian rotary table control, and co-injection integrated as a standard option.
Peter Hatton, Director at Hiden Analytical, UK, has worked with the company for more than 27 years, promoting the latest in processing technology, and notes the innovations that the company has sought to chase up for some time, ‘The decision to join Hiden Analytical was not difficult. I had seen some of the potential of quadrupole mass spectrometry from previous employment. However, Hiden is a company developing products for the advanced researcher, and this approach leads to exciting new applications.
‘We were one of the first companies to market with a full microprocessor-controlled residual-gas analyser (RGA), which was incredibly new in the early ‘80s! The technologies that were being developed when I joined Hiden included developing the small quadrupole RGA for plasma ion analysis, surface science applications and gas analysis.’
Hiden’s own contributions to processing technology are on-going, and the company’s history continues to inform current discoveries. ‘The process technology where we have been closely linked from development all the way through, from fundamental research in the late ‘80s, when I joined Hiden, and the early ‘90s to production is ion beam etch.
‘Ion beam etch could be controlled by time, by optical methods, and now by Hiden SMS, for the sensitivity required. As devices shrink, and the control parameters become more critical, the technology for process control becomes more critical. Getting the data density in today’s HDDs has only been possible through the development of GMR (giant magnetoresistive effect). The GMR effect has led to a strong increase in the data storage density of hard discs.’
Hatton states that this sensitivity remains at the top of developments in processing technology, commenting, ‘The incredible progress in materials technology over recent decades is phenomenal. For the future, we are experiencing greater demand for higher sensitivity.
‘This is leading to further demand for techniques that were once the preserve of the research laboratory, and that are now being utilised in 24/7 production processes. SIMS (secondary ion mass spectrometry) is an example where the sensitivity is required for the manufacture of read/write heads for HDDs.’
Next month's Spotlight is on analysis and microscopy
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Young talent at Materials Processing Institute
In a bid to support young talent into the industry, the Materials Processing Institute (MPI), UK, invited five university students into temporary placements at its Middlesbrough headquarters.
George Gibbins, University of Bristol, alongside Ben Wesson, University of Sheffield, Mike Imber, Durham University, and Darren Jefferson, Teesside University, recently completed summer placements working in projects including oxygen furnace thermodynamic modelling, chemical analysis, metal recovery and oxygen steelmaking, among others.
Sarah Martin has recently joined the MPI for a 12-month placement before going on to study Chemical Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.
Marketing Manager Andrew Cargill commented, ‘Having the students here at the Institute has been extremely beneficial. Their skills have been honed and they will be able to adapt them to their future careers. The placement students have been brilliant, and we wish them all good luck with their future studies.