Should I consider non-nuclear thickness measurement in my production plant?

Based on millimeter waves, Hammer-IMS developed new systems for measuring thickness and weight in production lines of sheets and films. This innovative electromagnetic technology is seen as a powerful alternative for today’s nuclear measuring equipment, which governments want to gradually ban. Furthermore the technology offers up to micron level accuracy on industrial production floors, measuring both transparent and opaque in any color as well as rough & shiny surfaces.

Something for me?

This sounds promising, but should I consider this measuring technology for my specific application? Millimeter wave measurements are favorable in situations where conventional technologies such as optical technologies, nuclear or radioactive radiation, ultrasound waves, inductive or capacitive measurement systems fail, are undesirable or provide an unreliable output. In this post, we specifically focus on materials that can be measured using millimeter wave technology. This innovative electromagnetic technology is suitable for a long list of non-metallic materials across a range of industries: paper & pulp, plastics, mineral wools, textile, composites, and glass. Upcoming blogposts will highlight other aspects of the measuring technology (precision, speed, surface roughness, reflection and transparency, etc).

Paper production

Paper & pulp plants producing graphical paper (paper for writing and printing), hygiene paper (tissues, kitchen rolls, etc.), and cardboard (mainly for packaging purposes) are a potential fit for millimeter wave measurements. However, for this industry the technology generally cannot be applied in production stages based on water. Further downstream, millimeter wave measurements excellently serve all processing stages, including cutting, sorting, stacking, printing, labeling, etc.

Plastics converting industry

Hammer-IMS targets also targets the plastics converting industry, producing higher-value products starting from bulk plastics. Plastic cast film made by horizontal extrusion processes (PE, PP, PA, PVC, PVDF, PS, PET, etc.) can all be measured by its millimeter wave technology. Likewise, extrusion is also applied to produce plastic sheets (PP, PMMA, PE, HDPE, PC, PET, PVC, etc.), which also can be measured. This also applies to cast sheets.

Mineral wools & textile

There are other markets producing non-metallic materials that are targeted by millimeter waves. The technology can deal with mineral wools, including stone wool and glass wool, used for insulation purposes. The textile industry covers a range of subindustries. Textile lamination (with foams: car seats, etc.) and textile coating (industrial coating, truck tarps, etc. often containing PVC) can be measured using millimeter wave technology. This also applies to non-woven textiles, covering filters as well as hygiene sheets (e.g. diapers), PET and PP. Since many non-wovens are synthetic, such materials could also be catalogued under plastics.

Composites & glass

The composites industry is another target market. Millimeter wave measurement works for glass fiber-based composites for lightweight construction work and sheet moulding compounds (SMC) for thermoforming purposes. And also for printed circuit boards (PCBs) consisting of FR4-materials. And finally the glass industry: float glass for regular construction work as well as photovoltaic glass with low metal content and high transparency.

Multilayer materials & coatings

A challenge for non-contact measuring technologies is the capability to detect multiple attached layers of different materials. We want to stretch the limits of millimeter wave measurement, but sensing the different layer thicknesses of a multilayer plastics is somewhat out of reach at this point. Currently we are focusing on detecting the thickness of polymer layers attached to metal substrates and special cases of multilayers. A good start is measuring the difference between ‘before’ and ‘after’ attaching a layer. This may contribute to developing technical principles for measuring coatings as well. Particularly interesting since coatings are widely applied across industries…