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New machine measures coating thickness

CSIRO : 25 April, 2001  (New Product)
Paper makers, the steel and aluminum and food packaging industries may benefit from a new instrument that can measure the thickness of a fine coating as it is being applied.
The OMNI is one of the applications of the Thin Film Measurement Instrument, developed by CSIRO.

The technology offers manufacturers the ability to quality control automatic coating processes.

It is used to measure the thickness of transparent solid or liquid layers on rough and smooth surfaces over a range of less than a nanometre to micrometres.

According to CSIRO scientist Dr Scott Martin the technology is able to measure coating thickness in real time, which will make it easier to assure the consistency and uniformity of a layer. This will remove the need for downstream sampling.

'In the aluminium industry for instance, the technology is able to check at the point of application that a wax application is being applied properly,' Dr Martin says. 'Until now it has been necessary to cut off a piece of metal and weigh it to check that the coating has been applied evenly.'

'In the steel industry, the opposite has to be done. Rather than adding a coating, a very thin layer needs to be removed. This machine makes sure it happens in the right way.'

Dr Martin says that other industries will benefit too.

'For instance in the food packaging industry, it is often important to ensure that wax or plastic coatings are applied properly so that the food is protected.'

The OMNI is now available on a purpose built basis.

Using non-contact optical technology in a patented solid-state compact design it is possible to collect data, in real time, at high speed in hostile (ie factory conditions where heat, moisture, dust and other conditions make measurements difficult) environments.

Variants are available to suit particular classes of industrial processes: the sensing head can be mounted on a scanner system to enable monitoring of the full width of a manufactured product.

Some industrial processes prohibit positioning the instrument close to the product, a new development in 2000 was a version of this instrument that will work up to one metre from the surface of the product.

This unique instrument is the only real time on-line instrument of its type.
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