If you’re in the coating, painting, or printing industry, you need to be monitoring viscosity. If you’re not monitoring it, you’ll eventually run into a whole host of otherwise preventable issues — issues that can seriously compromise the quality of your production.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
What Are Viscometers?
As a reminder, viscosity is essentially a fluid’s resistance to flow. A high viscosity (or “thick”) fluid will flow much more slowly than a low viscosity (or “thin” fluid) — an example of this is the rate at which oil flows compared to water when they’re both at room temperature.
When working with fluids in manufacturing, knowing their viscosity is important for a number of different reasons, not least of which is quality control. As mentioned, poor viscosity control can lead to many different problems.
This is where viscometers enter the picture.
Viscometers represent a range of devices all built for one purpose: to measure the viscosity of whatever fluid you’re working with. How they accomplish this differs between the different types.
You’re probably familiar with the Zahn cup, which was invented by General Electric in 1936. The Zahn cup is a type of efflux (flow) cup viscometer.
Saint Clair Systems offers automated viscosity sensors based on the Norcross viscometer, which is a resonant frequency type.
Other types include:
- Orifice viscometers
- Capillary (U-tube) viscometers
- Falling piston viscometers
- Rotational viscometers
- Falling ball viscometers
- Vibrational viscometers
Efflux (flow) cup viscometers are popular with painters and printers, thanks to their relatively low cost, simple usage, and low maintenance requirements. However, using efflux (flow) cup viscometers comes with many hidden costs. We’ll discuss the other types in more detail in a later blog.
Why Are Viscometers Useful?
Viscometers help you ensure that your fluid’s viscosity is staying within required tolerances, and by doing so, they help ensure consistent results.
As mentioned earlier, without monitoring, you can run into a whole host of viscosity problems. Thinner or thicker viscosity will affect how your equipment treats the fluids you’re working with, so when it’s not consistent, you may experience issues such as:
- Color changes and inconsistent color
- A variety of quality imperfections
- Material (i.e. ink or paint) waste
- Excessive solvent usage
- Unnecessary in-process or rework labor
It goes without saying that your customers won’t be pleased with products affected by these issues. That’s why it’s so important to monitor viscosity in your processes.
Monitoring Your Viscosity
Once you begin to use a viscometer to regularly monitor the viscosity of your fluids, you may find that you’re not staying within proper tolerances. If this is the case, try the following steps:
- Check the calibration of your viscometer. Some viscometers require occasional calibration.
- Check the mixture of your fluid. Is it consistent? Has it changed recently?
- Check your equipment. It may require cleaning or other maintenance.
If you’re still having an issue, you may require a temperature control solution. Too much variance in temperature (even just a few degrees) can have a drastic effect on viscosity in your processes. If you’d like more information, contact Saint Clair Systems and describe your issue.
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