What are lab equipment customers looking for? According to lab equipment suppliers, they want instruments that are durable, easy to use, multi-functional and they want it all at an affordable price.
"Our customers are looking for easy-to-use and affordable equipment that offers a high return on investment," said Tonya Tompkins, international sales manager, Q-Panel Lab Products. "Manufacturers are looking to increase product quality while reducing production costs."
That opinion was echoed by Alan Jaenecke of Taber Industries. "Our market research has shown that customers are looking for instruments that are easy to operate, provide results in a relatively short period of time and are cost effective," he said.
Equipment suppliers are answering these demands with a variety of new products that address the specific needs demanded by today's formulators.
Eiger Machinery has introduced larger versions of its Mini mill line, which is designed to produce realistic laboratory dispersion samples of 50 mls to one liter quickly and with minimum amounts of raw materials and clean up. The Mini mill is now available with one and two liter chambers and is capable of producing larger volumes of ten liters of dispersion and more. Ceramic components are available to eliminate product contamination or discoloration in laboratory samples of sensitive materials.
Eiger has also introduced new explosion-proof laboratory dispersers for 50 ml to 10 gallons. These dispersers feature bench top design with an infinitely variable speed agitator and constant torque for precise control of the dispersion process. In addition, the company has launched a new line of air driven laboratory mixers and dispersers that feature low cost and ease of use and a new series of laboratory chillers for controlling product temperature during chilling. The new versions are PLC controlled. These products can be used for research, product development, quality control and technical service in the paint, ink, color concentrates, additives and chemical industries, according to the company.
Brookfield Engineering's CAP 2000+ is a variable speed instrument ideal for both R&D as well as more detailed QC evaluation of viscosity. The CAP 1000+ is a single speed instrument designed specifically for QC tests. Both instruments feature temperature control and can be used for a variety of applications including paint, resins, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives.
Little Joe Industries' latest offering, the automatic draw down machine (ADM), is available in two models. ADM-1 for paste coatings, uses a single speed motor to move the scraper the length of the grind gage in ten seconds. ADM-2, for both liquid and paste coatings, uses a variable speed motor in which travel time is adjustable from two to ten seconds. Both models feature durable construction and an 85� scraper angle, virtually doubling the life of the scraper when compared to a 90� angle, according to the company.
Q-Panel has introduced two new products, the Q-Sun Xe-3 with chiller and the QUV/cw Cool White photostability tester.
The Q-Sun Xe-3 with chiller is a full size, full spectrum xenon arc test chamber that can maintain chamber air temperatures as low as 15�C. Q-Panel contends this window glass filter system achieves a spectrum that is virtually identical to sunlight behind window glass and damaging bright indoor light sources. The Xe-3 with chiller is ideal for testing products that are sensitive to high temperatures as well as large 3D parts. The QUV/cw Cool White photostability tester provides a standard cool white fluorescent test chamber that allows the user to conduct reproducible and repeatable tests in accordance to ANSI, ASTM and ISO test methods. The QUV/cw photostability tester effectively reproduces and accelerates indoor lighting conditions encountered in office and commercial environments as well as retail display lighting. It features temperature control and is programmable.
Datacolor has launched its newly designed Spectraflash X series of spectrophotometers. The three models�SF600X, SF450X, and SF350X�have been developed to accommodate a full range of needs and budgets. Designed for use with the firm's software, new Spectraflash instruments are also compatible with virtually all color packages on the market. The instruments, intended for lab use, feature user-friendly operation that reduces set-up errors, a space-saving design and a range of accessories to accommodate a wide range of samples including large aperture for measuring textures, according to the company.
Taber Industries recently released the improved Taber shear/scratch tester model 550/551, which is ideal for measuring damage to surfaces not classified as ordinary wear. Interchangeable tools are used to measure susceptibility to marring, shearing, gouging, scratching, scraping, engraving and other similar physical damage. The unit is also useful for quality control as well as materials and product development. Applications include evaluating the adhesive qualities of surface coatings, measuring scratch resistance, rating characteristics of similar or competitive materials, detecting the lack of homogeneity in comparative materials and analyzing the effects of age under controlled environmental conditions.