Particle Size Distribution for Quality Control

LPC (3)In precision manufacturing and fluid engineering, the presence of microscopic particles can have a big impact on the performance of a product.

Particle-size distribution is a critical consideration for manufacturers of devices in used in critical environments, as well as pharmaceuticals, inks, cosmetics and more. Dense or loose particle configurations may disrupt the integrity and safety of your products.  Liquid particle counting determines the number of particles at various size ranges which are in a liquid or that can be removed from a surface.

Examples of Particle Size Distribution in Products:

Pigments and Inks

If the particle size distribution of an ink sample is incorrect, the ink will not flow through the delivery device properly and the end results can be adversely affected.  Properties of pigments and inks that are dependent upon small and precise particle size include:

  • Hue/tint strength
  • Transparency
  • Gloss/flatting/film appearance
  • Flocculation
  • Viscosity
  • Stability
  • Weather resistance

If a batch of ink is not performing as expected, the particle size distribution can help identify issues in production.

Cosmetics

Precisely manufactured particles within powders are very important to the quality of cosmetics such as lipstick, moisturizer, and concealer products. The precise measurement and composition of particles in cosmetics is crucial to the performance and even safety of these products that are often applied to sensitive areas of skin.

Food and Drink Containers – Drink producers choosing containers for their products must consider how the materials in the container will react with the product after extended periods of time. Food and drink products often use powders at intermediate stages of production. During storage, the products may separate if the particle size distribution of the powders is incorrect.

Petroleum Products – Proper particle size distribution in oils such as hydraulic fluid is important for maintaining the functionality of industrial machinery. Engineers take fluid samples from their machinery and analyze them with particle counters to determine the quantity and composition of particles resulting from abrasive bearing wear or from other factors.

As Jim Fitch of the Noria Corporation wrote, “It’s hard for a machine to fail without the oil knowing first.” If there is too much dirty buildup in the fluid, it could be a signal that the machinery itself is breaking down, or simply that the oil needs to be changed. Taking the time to test for particle size distribution in dirty oil can pay-off when machinery is at the core of a business.

Liquid Particle Counting

There are numerous ways to analyze particle size distribution. One process for determining the size and amount of each size of particle is Liquid Particle Counting (LPC).

Helpful for determining the number and size of particulates on solids and in liquids, LPC measures particle distribution and size by irradiating a liquid sample with a laser diode and detecting the scattered light. The properties detected in the scattered light are related to the particle size. Once the size is measured, the number of particles present in a range is determined.

For solid samples, particulates are extracted for LPC using water or a detergent solution. The sample and extraction fluid are placed in an ultrasonic bath which, once the solid sample is removed, analyzes the particles present in the extraction fluid.

Innovatech Labs is a materials analysis laboratory that conducts LPC for clients who are experiencing quality concerns. If your company is experiencing a problem and you suspect particles may be to blame, contact Innovatech Labs today.

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