As Senior Mechanical Engineer on the Mastersizer 3000 development team, one of the innovations that pleases me most is the instrument’s new automatic cell locking mechanism. And it’s certainly something that many people comment on when they first use the Mastersizer 3000.
If you’re familiar with the way the machinery takes over as you start to insert a DVD into your computer – automatically pulling it into the player – then you immediately have an idea of the mechanism engineered into the Mastersizer 3000. Why did we include it? Because we wanted an easy, failsafe system that ensures the cell is accurately positioned every time, without the user having to worry about it.
Single handed cell changing from wet to dry and vice versa, with automatic cell alignment, was a goal right from the start of the Mastersizer 3000 development project. It’s hard to believe that the sophisticated cell locking mechanism that we have now began life as a few bits of plywood bolted together for testing. It certainly reminds me that we’ve come a very long way in a fairly short time and there’s been a great deal of precision engineering in between!
Making sure that the automatic platform triggers at exactly the right moment was one of our biggest challenges and having addressed that we really have achieved a system that takes the responsibility for cell positioning away from the user. Once you start the process of inserting the measurement cell, the Mastersizer 3000 smoothly takes over, automatically positioning it and locking it into place, and also simultaneously detecting whether wet or dry measurements are required. Removing the cell is even easier – at the press of a button the cell simply lifts away from its mount, ready for removal.