Temperature Control, Software, and Compliance are Essential
It would be nearly impossible to go without using some kind of liquid material in our daily activities: Pouring cream or milk into a cup of coffee. Applying moisturizer after washing your hands. Rolling on a new coat of paint during a renovation.
What would the reaction be if the milk or cream flowed like syrup from the container after being in the refrigerator? What if the moisturizer felt like it could be squeezed out only by using a rolling pin? What if the paint were too watery, running down the wall before it dried?
Viscosity (plainly put, the thickness of a liquid) is measured across a wide range of industries. Wherever there are materials that flow, there will likely be a viscometer nearby to ensure the quality and efficiency of the material. The type of material—and its application—will have a large impact on the viscometer setup utilized.
“The viscosity of water reduces by approximately two percent per degree Celsius around ambient temperatures, while for asphalt or bitumen this can be in excess of 15 percent. Hence, temperature accuracy is important for viscometry in general, but more so when measuring high-viscosity materials such as asphalt,” says John Duffy of Malvern Instruments Ltd. (Worcestershire, UK). “For this reason, some of the most stringent temperature requirements are found for the standardized testing of asphalt binders where temperature accuracy of 0.1°C or better is required.”
Whereas temperature precision is a key deciding factor in the setup of a viscometer for the asphalt manufacturing industry, other industries look more toward the software and compliance abilities of viscometers. “The regulated industries have the most severe requirements in terms of making sure that everything is foolproof,” Bob McGregor of Brookfield AMETEK Inc. (Middleboro, MA) explains. “Instruments now have a built-in program for testing viscosity that the operator never needs to access—or modify. The pharmaceutical industry has certainly pushed things in that direction with their intention of making the instruments secure, and making sure the data that comes out of the instrument is secure.”
For laboratories that run a wide range of processes—analyzing many different samples with varying viscosities—the versatility of the viscometer may be the deciding factor in the purchase. “With glass capillaries in traditional methods, you have to change out a glass capillary tube depending on what you want to measure. With our instrument, you can inject olive oil, hit ‘run,’ and let the instrument do its thing, and then with honey do the same. There is no changing out of parts or components, so it eliminates user error and increases sample throughput for labs that have multiple viscosities or sample types,” explains Ross Roberts, product specialist on the Stabinger viscometer for Anton Paar USA Inc. (Ashland, VA).
In making the final decision on which viscometer is the best fit for their purpose, users need to have a firm knowledge of their processes and ask vendors the appropriate questions based on those processes from the start.
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For additional resources on viscometers, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit: www.labmanager.com/viscometers