26 October 2015
The manufacturing of plastic bottles caps, fitments, fasteners and various other packaging may be, arguably, one of the most pivotal industries across the globe. The production of these various plastic products has great demand in many applications, both available to the public and for use in a more industrial setting. It is not just simply producing the caps for milk bottles that let a consumer know what type of milk they are buying, but rather the use of any form of plastic container across many different walks of life.
Producing all of these products sounds like a very prosperous business to be in and a very competitive one. This begs the question, why not stand out from the competition with a more professional finished product? A product that will stand up to any number of continuity tests that can be thrown at it by a prospective customer, again and again after an infinite number of batches?
The downfall of many good manufacturers comes when a product is shipped to the consumer only for them to say that it doesn’t match the high standards of a previous batch. It is a very costly error to have made, both for the manufacturer and customer and can cost a great deal of time and money to rectify. How efficient would it be to be able to check the quality of the products at any stage of the manufacturing process?
When should we be measuring colour?
If we use an example of producing plastic bottle tops, there are a few stages where colour can be measured throughout the injection moulding process to ensure that good quality is kept consistent.
• The colour of Masterbatch pellets could be measured at the start of manufacturing process to ensure conformity with subsequent batches from the start. How detrimental to the production would it be if the colour was wrong from the start?
• Once the bottle cap is formed, a colour measurement could then be taken to make sure that the formed product is of the correct appearance and colour saturation. Do you want consistent batches of vibrant caps that appear bright or is a more subtle colour preferred?
• A sample of the completed product could also be measured. This could be after all of the manufacturing processes have been completed as a final check before being sent to the customer.
Measuring colour at each of these steps could actually help cut time delays and production costs; the problems will be prevented before they can arise and could save entire unsatisfactory batches being discarded. Any anomalies in colour at various points during the production process could indicate a discrepancy with either the process itself or the machinery which will enable quick and efficient maintenance and solutions, again saving time and money.
How can a spectrophotometer help?
Depending on a specific need, there is an instrument that can help.
For the measurement of a singular item, such as a bottle cap, from a production line a MiniScan EZ could be perfect. This hand held instrument is light weight and is designed for one-handed operation with thumb-tip navigation of functions. This instrument can be used right at the production line at any appropriate moment as required and gives easy to read colour data that can let you know how efficient the process is being.
Alternatively, why not choose a ColorFlex EZ? This instrument is the only design in the industry that sees the samples the way a human eye does so you can ensure that you are providing exactly what your customer wants. This instrument measures the reflected colour of solids and liquids, can be connected to a printer or PC and can be programmed with Pass/Fail tolerances to suit customer requirements. How easy would it be to measure the colour of a sample and to have the instrument software tell you instantly if it passes or fails?
Larger batch measurements
For a more accurate batch overview, a larger sample size should be measured. This sounds as if it should take a long time, but why not use an instrument that can do all the hard work for you and save time?
The D25NC can do just that. With its large turntable (up to 20in²) you can measure a larger sample size to create a better average across a batch. With rapid sampling capable of flashing5 times per second, 25 times per cycle this spectrophotometer will give quick, accurate and reliable results of bottle caps and Masterbatch pellets alike. The D25NC is also able to measure a singular sample at any time, for any specific anomalies that may occur.
Whatever the instrument chosen, it has to both compliment and support the quality control process whilst being as less intrusive as possible. It needs to be easy to use but also capable of handling a vast number of samples if required. Whatever the spectrophotometer chosen, versatility should be at the forefront to accommodate any changes in methodology.