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Tales from the development team: Pumping power into wet dispersion

19 September 2011 No Comment

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As a Systems Engineer at Malvern Instruments I have had the pleasure of developing the wet dispersion units for our Mastersizer 3000. So, when asked what I like most about the Mastersizer 3000 my initial thoughts tend to revolve around the new Hydro family of wet dispersion solutions. However, the Mastersizer 3000 is so impressive as a whole system that it makes me proud to be able to claim to be a part of the team responsible for bringing it to market.
As we all know, materials analysis is not about how we get the results, but about how useful those results are. If there was one thing the dispersion team wished to achieve with this project therefore, it was a route to effortless sample dispersion, enabling analysts to focus on getting robust, reliable results.
Hydro and Aero dispersion
The Mastersizer 3000 is specified for the measurement of so very many materials that no one sample dispersion technique could be universally applied. To deliver these wide ranging capabilities the development team worked to produce improved dispersion accessories for both wet and dry measurement. While my colleague, Andy Buckmaster, worked on the novel Aero S dry dispersion engine, I worked towards making the Hydro wet dispersion technology as fast, efficient and flexible as possible without requiring any additional operational effort from the user or the need for tools.
Now, as the final product is hitting the market we can look back and appreciate our achievements. Both dispersion unit designs incorporate auto-locking measurement cells for precise optical alignment, and easliy removable windows for rapid cleaining and maintenance. This makes them enormously practical. Also, because both wet and dry dispersion systems are controlled in real-time via the analyzer software, automated system initialisation enables the operator to switch from one to another very easily.
Serious software from a small but mighty Mastersizer
Once I drag myself away from the finely designed lines of the new Hydro units, the software interface is also a personal favourite of mine. It truly is of this decade and looks very serious, and it packs an equally powerful punch when in use. The streamlined switching between wet and dry dispersion works beautifully.
Certainly there have been challenges along the way, but I very much hope you enjoy using the new units as much as we’ve taken pleasure in developing them.