In addition to being able to see things you can now understand what you’re seeing, Putman explained.
According to Putman, with the new device, scientists and engineers can now go in and tag or label something that they know has a specific feature.
“It gets built into a training system so when they have done this in production it will automatically tell you what is going on and whether the problem is in your mix, your moulding process or your extrusion process,” he added.
The early adopters of the technology are tire companies and rubber compounders.
German tire maker and automotive supplier Continental AG purchased the technology in June, while early users include compounders such as Altran, and dispersion companies such as Flow Polymers.
Companies that make fillers such as carbon black or silica can also be the potential users of the system.
Also, said Putman, makers of automotive parts such as seals, gaskets, wiper blades as well as other industries such as medical devices, can make use of the device.
So what does this new device bring to the market, which is not out there already?
“What’s out there already, like rheometers or viscometers give you information on whether you have a good batch or a bad batch; but they don’t tell you why.
“With them, you have to use a lot of correlation and figure out why you don’t have a good batch,” explained Putman.
With the 3D device, he went on to say, “since we are looking at something and we are tagging it – through the use of artificial intelligence and automation – you could be very specific.
“This device tells you what the dispersion is, for either carbon black, silica, nanotubes, graphene and other nanofillers. So, with that, you can adjust mix cycles or your compound.”
The natural intuition when mixing a compound is to do your best to guarantee that the filler is well dispersed. Simply mixing for a longer time does achieve this.