Fluid Research® Frequently Asked Questions
Accuracy depends primarily on the nature of the polymer being dispensed. Typically a low-viscosity material without fillers can achieve a ratio accuracy and shot amount repeatability of better than 2%. Flow rate accuracy can be as good as 0.5%, with virtually no pulsation. Temperature control can be maintained with 1 deg C, and vacuum levels down to 5 torr.
Products such as our standard 2000 configuration are provided with casters for mobility. Any other system can be customized with wheels to suit the customer’s needs.
Yes, we evaluate your specific needs and provide a solution created for your specific application. If your product needs to be dispensed at a specific temperature, or if it needs degassing, we will provide a solution.
Continuous flow is possible with virtually every FR dispensing system. The user can vary the flow over a broad range; using customer initiated pre-set programs selectable from a solid-state user interface. The practical maximum and minimum values for each system depend upon the size of the pumps installed, viscosity of the material and amount of filler.
Shot size is virtually unlimited, with the smallest practical amount being approximately 0.3 cc. Any combination of shot amount and flow rate above that is within the Fluid Research operating envelope, up to continuous flow. For instance 10 cc of a two part epoxy could be dispensed in 1 second, or 60 seconds. During the design stage optimum range of shot amount and flow rate are determined before the pump size is specified for the system. This ensures wider latitude of possibilities for the user, providing maximum flexibility for the system after installation.
A progressing cavity pump consists of a long round rod, formed into a helix, which is called a rotor. The rotor, rotates about its’ long axis in an elastomeric double helix, called a stator. Cavities are formed at equal intervals along the internal body of the stator, which progress from one end of the stator when the rotor is turned on its’ central axis. The cavities are sealed from each other, each two opposing cavities being called a stage. Any rotation of the rotor will cause the cavity on the output end to force material out. The amount of material delivered per complete rotation, or portion of a rotation is exact and repeatable. By controlling the rotation of the rotor with a proper computer algorithm, any desired amount of material can be delivered, in either small quantities singly, repeatedly, or continuous.
Conditions on the factory floor vary from hour to hour, and day to day. Liquid polymeric engineering fluids can change characteristics unpredictably due to changing temperature, humidity, gas absorption and settling, among other things. Therefore temperature, agitation, gas absorption and isolation must be closely controlled at constant values to ensure predictable results. This is done with a Material Management unit, which exercises continuous automatic control of all of these conditions, ensuring that the material performs in exactly the way it was engineered. Parts produced under these conditions are extremely uniform in physical characteristics and appearance, virtually eliminating scrap and rejects to rework.
Fillers serve many purposes, from decreasing the amount of expensive liquid component in a compound, to providing additional physical properties to the mix. For instance, some fillers are added to increase thermal conductivity of encapsulating materials, or electrical properties, or to reduce density. Other fillers increase density for radiation shielding, or are fibrous to increase strength or durability. Fillers tend to damage pumping systems with sliding seals or check valves. FR’s systems use primarily Progressing Cavity Pumps, which exhibits many times higher wear resistance than other pumping systems.
Thixotropic materials reduce in viscosity when stirred or put under pressure. An example of Thixotropic is ketchup. When static, it is generally thick and reluctant to pour out of the bottle. However, if stirred, it becomes much more fluid and will pour easily. Polymeric engineering fluids exhibit this same characteristic to varying degrees, and systems designed to manage them must be engineered on a case-by-case basis for optimum results.
Encapsulation, also known as potting is the process of enclosing a product, such as an electronic circuit in a reactive material such as epoxy, silicone, or polyurethane, to environmentally protect it from moisture, oxidation and shock. In addition, encapsulation can provide electrical insulation and thermal management, vastly improving an electronic device’s reliability and durability.
MMD is the process of precisely measuring, blending and controlling the movement of reactive materials in such a way that they combine chemically to form a specified chemical structure. Generally used to describe the process of dispensing such polymeric engineering fluids as epoxies, polyurethanes, and other engineering fluids, the end result is uniform mixing and hardening of the dispensed material for some useful purpose. Automated Meter Mix and Dispensing systems provide the qualities you need-consistency, repeatability and accuracy.
For small quantities, a few per day or week of small parts, your method may be just fine. However, as quantities rise, there are too many variables to control consistently to ensure uniform results from part to part and from day to day. Mechanical MMD ensures that the dispensed material will perform at the manufacturer’s specification and to the specifications needed in the final design of the component. Waste is virtually eliminated, human contact is virtually eliminated, material utilization is close to 100% and environmental standards are easily met. All of these together mean maximum efficiency and minimum cost. Generally as quantities rise, MMD can ensure rising quality and maximum benefit from efficiencies of scale.
We have yet to install a system that did not save the user money. In some cases, the payback was in as little as two months. From labor savings, to elimination of scrap, cleanup, and repair costs, to safety and reduction of waste material, the savings are generally immediate. Often MMD can make the difference between offshore production and production in the US at lower cost, a significant advantage in logistics and control.
The installed base of FR MMD equipment speaks volumes about our effectiveness. Extremely high reliability, low cost of ownership, exceptional accuracy, and intuitive ease of operation, all combine to provide exceptional value to the user. Continuously challenged to provide solutions for dispense problems that some manufacturers have been unable to solve for decades, our engineers have provided the highest value in the industry, regardless of price. Although we are sometimes not the first choice, experience has told us that we are generally the final choice.
Fluid Research ensures reliability, accuracy and dependability in many forms. Whether a stock system, or a specialized custom system, our application engineers work through the specifics of your requirements, ensuring the proper materials and capacities are installed. Upon preparation for delivery, a customer manufacturing engineer is invited to train at our facility, or conversely, at the customers facility, when the machine is delivered. At that time the maintenance department of the customer is trained in the proper operation of the machine. Factory support is available by phone, Skype, or when necessary, a personal visit by one of our Factory Service Technicians. Depending on the nature of the problem, the repairs are handled either as warranty, under our standard terms and conditions, or as a repair or training.
Fluid Research would be glad to demonstrate the reliability and quality of our systems at our factory, or provide references for installations near your factory. Our highly experienced factory application engineers can provide excellent design assistance for your unique application. Once a system is wetted with a particular material, it is difficult to ensure that it has been complete cleaned for an alternative material. Therefore, we generally do not provide test systems.
The metering/dispensing technology used in most Fluid Research systems employ progressing cavity pumps. These pumps, featuring pulseless, continuous flow, are manufactured by FR in the US to ensure the highest possible quality and reliability. Interior components are specially selected to resist wear, and the specific design of the mating parts work together to provide the highest abrasion resistance of any precision pumping system available. Although it is difficult to predict pump life for every available abrasive material, FR PC pumps have proven their durability in hundreds of demanding abrasive applications worldwide.
The entire line of Fluid Research dispensing systems can dose repeatedly, and all but the simplest of systems in our line can be integrated into an automated production system. Generally manual dose repetition is controlled by a foot pedal or hand dispensing gun trigger, but other control options are available. For automated operations, a start signal is accepted from the motion systems, generally with a verification system to ensure that a part is actually in place. For either one component dispensing, or multiple component dispensing, dose size can vary from less than 0.5cc, to several liters, or continuous flow. In the most advanced robotic systems, dosing dispense rate can be continuously variable, changing under robotic control to accommodate the high demands of robotic manufacturing.
All FR systems, can accept inputs from robotic controllers. Depending on the level of error detection and verification required for your application, a more sophisticated control system may be needed. If automation is being considered in your application, please discuss the needs with our application engineers. It is easier to design in the proper automation interfaces initially than after the system has left our factory
Due to the wide variety of materials available, there is no simple answer to this question. If the change is generally within the same family, and the ratios are reasonably similar, simple re-programming and re-calibration may be all that is necessary. Larger variations of type, such as from epoxy to urethane, or from 50-50 ratio to 100 to 5 ratio, may require new wetted parts or drive components. It is generally recommended to do the former, rather than the latter.
All FR MMD systems are designed to accommodate varying shot sizes. FR systems come standard with anywhere from 10-250+ programs of a specific shot size and shot rate can be stored in the system’s computer. Simply change programs with a few key strokes, and the system is now dispensing the new shot size and rate.
In order to ensure the highest quality dispense performance, all Fluid Research’s dispense systems are self-contained. All software parameters are tightly controlled, and all quality feedback elements are rigorously tested for performance and reliability. Attaching a PC to a programming port on a FR’s system is not recommended due to the possibility of introducing viruses into the system. However, Signature systems, equipped with proper firewall protection, can be installed on a local area Ethernet system. In that case, a variety of quality, performance and status data can be monitored on a continuous basis.
The unique design of a progressing cavity pump includes the vital elements of excellent abrasion resistance, continuous low pulse, and high precision per pump rotation, inherent pressure maintenance and high reliability. All of these qualities are ideally suited to Meter Mix, Dispense applications. For some materials, the useful life expectancy can be several years of continuous operation. For highly abrasive materials, the shorter life expectancy greatly exceeds any other known technology by orders of magnitude. Proven in hundreds of exceptionally demanding applications world-wide, no other pump is as reliable or accurate.