NPE2012 Part 1—The most important innovation at the show

04/19/2012

Starting with a title like this invites trouble. It is like the Rolling Stone surveys that list the 100 greatest rock and roll songs or the 100 greatest guitarists. No one is happy with the outcome. But if you had to look at one innovation at NPE this year that had the potential to save more money and prevent more problems in the industry, it would have to be the emergence, or re-emergence, of a sensor that has the ability to perform in-line measurements of moisture content in raw material.

The technology that enabled this development dates back to research performed at MIT in the 1970s that established a relationship between the moisture content of a resin and its dielectric properties. A company was formed in the early 1980’s to commercialize the technology as a lab instrument. It became part of the history of brilliant ideas that did not develop into commercial success. Part of the problem was that a calibration curve had to be created for each resin relating moisture content to dielectric properties. Once the curve was created, the moisture content could be measured using the bench top instrument. But the developers of the instrument did not provide a comprehensive library of curves with the instrument and there was a fee charged to the instrument user for each calibration curve. ...
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