Testing Equipment Update

By Kerry Pianoforte | August 11, 2005

Testing equipment manufacturers have developed a variety of new equipment to meet the demands of their customers.

When purchasing testing equipment, formulators of paint and coatings have many factors to considercost, ease-of-use and accuracy being some of the most important. Testing equipment manufacturers are offering a variety of instruments to meet these needs from simple, single-function testing products to more advanced equipment for complicated testing needs.

"Customers are looking for cost effective equipment that fills their need," said Hal Good of HunterLab. "If they simply need an instrument to measure the color draw downs, they typically get a low cost benchtop or portable system, if they are doing color formulations they get a more sophisticated lab instrument."

If a formulator has a sophisticated application such as measuring camouflage materials, they could consider an instrument like the UltraScan Pro, which measures both visible color and reflection into the near infrared for the measurement of camouflage coatings. Its D64 illumination source is calibrated in both the ultraviolet and visible regions for the accurate measurement of fluorescent paint.

Instron's Dynatup 9250 is
designed to test material in extreme temperatures and
harsh environments.
Testing machines that are easy to use and reduce the margin for error are also in demand. "I believe that customers are looking for testing equipment that removes operator variable now more than ever," said Michael Engel of Little Joe Industries. "With ISO 9000 and other requirements requiring a written procedure for every test, it is easier to follow those rules if the apparatus does most of the work for the operator."

Little Joe Industries' ADM-2 is the multi-speed version of the ADM-1 automatic draw down machine. Both versions make draw downs on grind gages with smooth motorized movement and consistent scraper angle. "The ADM-2 moves at fast and slow speeds and is therefore more useful to the coatings industry than the ADM-1," Engel said.

A current trend in paint and coatings testing is incorporating the effect of impact events into the evaluation process, according to Kevin York, business unit manager for Dynatup impact products, Instron Corp. "It is now critical for the aerospace, automotive and various other industries to identify what keeps a coating adhered to substrates and structures. An instrumented impact testing instrument simulates how the coating will react to an impact event by providing repeatable, controlled velocity, weight or energy and observing the effects of energy absorption and dispersion."

According to York, another trend in the paint and coatings industry is the inclusion of impact and energy absorption testing as part of design testing protocols. "The most pervasive application of this is in the automotive and aerospace markets. Manufacturers are now testing the paint and coatings on larger structures or components rather than small sample plaques. Components include body panels, bumpers and pillars and structural supports. This ensures that companies are designing and producing top-of-the-line products that retain the same quality throughout their life cycle."

Instron's latest product is the Dynatup 9250, an impact testing machine that tests impact resistance of painted and coated surfaces. The Dynatup 9250 offers computer control and impact velocities up to 22 m/sec for impact testing in the fields of quality control and research and development. Using this instrument, the entire impact event can be captured, plotted and analyzed to determine data such as the ductile-to-brittle transition point, ductility, incipient damage, max load and absorbed energy. Designed to test materials in extreme temperatures and harsh environments, the Dynatup 9250 also utilizes Impulse, a complete software and electronics package designed for impact testing.

X-Rite's latest offering is X-RiteColor Master software version 6.0, which provides users with accurate, flexible and fast access to color control data for the coatings and ink industries, according to the company. The software has been updated to include a number of features including custom Excel reporting, which automatically places data into an Excel report that can be configured, organized and printed; tolerance warning level, which allows users to set action limits as a percent of each color tolerance; and multi-angle trend plot, which displays all angles on a single plot. The software also features color-coded plotting for samples based on measurement angles or tags such as operator, shift or company.

UV Process Supply has released the Pocket Goniometer, which measures static contact angle, and dynamic surface hysteresis for laboratory field applications related to gluing, printing and surface-related problems. It is an ideal tool for checking specimen contamination and the effects from cleaning and surface treatments, according to the company.

Also from UV Process Supply is the Ace 3000 thickness gage, featuring +/-one micrometer accuracy with zero-200 micron thick material. The unit features last reading hold for easy viewing of results on its LCD, automatic shut-off, memory, limits and audio warming. It performs simple zero and single point calibration.

Taber Industries said its new verification kit for its rotary platform abraser is a cost effective way for users to verify if an instrument is in calibration or determine if the instrument should be returned to the factory for recalibration or repair. Consisting of precision-machined WearTrac wheels, S-45 wheel tracking cards and a vacuum gage, each kit is individually calibrated and provides a fast, reliable system check, according to the company. Using the S-45 wheel tracking card and WearTrac wheels, the user can verify wheel location, wheel tracking, arm centering, relative arm alignment, arm perpendicularity and arm parallelism. A vacuum gage measures vacuum suction force.

Recreating Mother Nature
Making sure paint and coatings can withstand the elements is a high priority for testing labs (see sidebar on pg. 68). Many testing equipment manufacturers have developed weathering tests to recreate the harsh elements of Mother Nature.

HunterLab's UltraScan Pro measures both visible color and reflection into the near infrared for the measurement of camouflage coatings.
Atlas Material Testing Technology's CCX Advanced Cyclic Corrosion cabinet with temperature control features a new high temperature option that will enable it to perform many additional tests. The option increases the maximum temperature of a CCX cabinet to 90C. When combined with the freezing/cooling option, the CCX now has a temperature range from minus 30C to 90C.

Atlas has also introduced a temperature-controlled test methodology for the Emmaqua outdoor accelerated test device. Using this new technology, the target sample temperature is maintained constantly despite variations in ambient daytime temperature and solar radiation intensity.

Q-Panel's QUV accelerated weathering tester reproduces the damaging effects of sunlight on durable material by using fluorescent UV lamps. The QUV's system of alternating UV with moisture allows exceptional realism and control in a design that is easy to install, easy to use and almost maintenance free, according to the company.

Also from Q-Panel is the Q-Sun xenon test chamber to test for color change and fade. Q-Sun features full spectrum xenon arc lampsUV, visible light and infraredto realistically reproduce sunlight and bright indoor lighting. Water spray and humidity control options are available.

Gardco has made available two new 5000 series drying time recorders. Model DT-5020 is designed to measure drying times of all types of coatings and adhesives. Its shaft driven 3/8" Teflon stylus will complete one rotation in a period which can be programmed from one minute to 99 hours, 59 minutes. Model DT-5040 is a quadracycle drying time recorder with one hour, six hour, 12 hour and 24 hour cycles. Both instruments conform to ASTM D5895, according to the company.

BASF, Q-Panel recreate Jacksonville, FL summer in a Lab
Combined with the BASF Accelerated Acid Test, the modified Q-Sun xenon testing device allows a significant acceleration by simulating the Jacksonville weathering test.
Thanks to a new testing method, BASF Coatings scientists in Mnster can now experience a Jacksonville, FL summer without packing their suitcase. While it won't help their frequent flyer miles, it will help improve acid etch resistance in automotive coatings.

At the "First European Weathering Symposium" held in Prague last year, Ulrich Schernau, head of analytical services at BASF Coatings, introduced a new test method-called the BASF Accelerated Acid Test-that simulates the "Jacksonville" weathering test, a special outdoor exposure test that can only be performed from mid-May to the end of August in the Jacksonville, FL area and provides information regarding coatings performance in acidic ambient conditions.

To perform the new accelerated test method in the laboratory, BASF Coatings AG in Mnster-Hiltrup uses a specially modified device provided by Q-Panel Lab Products. The first tests have already been performed on clearcoats, according to BASF.

The stress due to acid rain and dew, in combination with the subsequent solar radiation, is a severe test for automotive coatings. A potent cocktail of sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid and ammonia which occurs during natural weathering attacks car finishes, causing defects that look like dried water drops, but cannot be removed by washing and polishing.

In the modified Q-Sun xenon testing device, panels are stressed by acids, different temperatures, increased humidity and the filtered radiation of a xenon burner in consecutive steps.

During a 420-hour testing period, panels are subjected to stress similar to the 14-week-long Jacksonville test. As a result, approximately 20weathering tests can be performed for developmental purposes each year, rather than just one.

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