Posts Tagged ‘image analysis’

Improve the granulation process with Online 3D Dynamic Image Analysis

Posted on: November 21st, 2016 by Microtrac

Improve the granulation process with Online 3D Dynamic Image Analysis

Learn how Yara, arguably the largest fertilizer producer in the world, improves their granulation process with the PartAn3D PRO, Microtrac’s online dynamic image analyzer. Not only does Yara manufacture higher quality products, they also gain significant financial benefits as well.

Featured in the launch issue of World Fertilizer, this customer success story covers the following topics:

  • Description of the NPK production process
  • What is Dynamic Image Analysis and why use it online
  • Advantages to updating “the old way” of material characterization
  • Achieving key KPI’s (key performance indicators)
  • Delivering more revenue, while lowering operational cost

Download the article here.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of online 3D dynamic image analysis, Microtrac invites you to send samples for a complimentary feasibility test. Click here to speak to a technical specialist today.

Dependence on Aggregates as Building Blocks of Our Infrastructure

Posted on: September 4th, 2015 by Microtrac

Dependence on Aggregates as Building Blocks of Our Infrastructure.

Highways, bridges, airport runways, dams, and railway beds are all integral components of a country’s infrastructure. Their quality and long term endurance are dependent on the quality and strength of the crushed stone aggregates and natural and manufactured sand that get combined in the particle blends used to produce cement and asphalt concretes for their construction. Coarse Aggregate is crushed stone, usually granite, limestone, gravel and slag, between 90 and 4.75 millimeters in sieve sizes. Fine Aggregate is natural, manufactured, or combination sand, between 9.5 millimeters and 75 microns in sieve sizes.

End users of these construction materials are generally regulatory agencies like departments of transportation, airport and railway authorities. These groups issue specifications to their suppliers based very closely on the various standard tests which have been written for large regions globally, many ASTM and AASHTO standards for the US, British standards for Europe, Indian standards for India, etc.

These test standards vary from one to another, but are very similar. They include various types of tests, but one of the major groups of tests are for measuring the geometric (or morphological) parameters of the particles in the aggregate blends. These various geometric parameters correlate to physical properties of the end construction, like load-bearing strength, degree of internal frictional strength, wear rate,  and bonding/binding strength with the cement or asphalt matrix. Until just recently, the only ways to make these measurements were manually, by screening samples of aggregate products into different size classes to calculate their size distributions, and then running

a myriad of manual tests on samples of the different size fractions using: hand-held gauges to measure various sizes of individual particles like length, width and thickness, a series of rod screens; measuring water-filled void spaces in large containers; abrading samples and measuring the % of the abraded fines; and more. These are very manpower intensive and can take up to days to complete, which leads some suppliers to make them only once a week on a collected sample. There is now, however, an automated 3-Dimensional Dynamic Image Analyzer which can make all these measurements on a large representative sample of particles in one sample run. Achieving all these results in under an hour, without operator subjectivity, rather than up to a day, and with concern about operator error, is a huge savings in time and expense. And this much time savings contributes greatly to improved productivity, fewer unscheduled plant shut-downs and less time to reach process equilibrium upon start-up.

Meanwhile, additional research is underway to make other either improved or additional measurements, like particle surface area, particle surface roughness or texture, angularity, and three-dimensional volumes. All these parameters too can be measured on the 3-D image analyzer.

Particle Length, Width and Thickness (all three major axis size dimensions) need to be measured to then calculate some of the important geometric parameters for aggregate as ASTM requires, the 3 Flat, Elongated, and Flat & Elongated particles parameters. The 3-D mode is also required for measuring the British Standard’s Flakiness Index results. Results of both these standard tests give numbers which correlate with the load-bearing strength of the final road bed. The 3-D mode is patented by, and available only in Microtrac’s line of PartAn3D Dynamic Image Analysis Instruments; in both on-line process and in lab bench top Models for R&D and QC labs. Microtrac has more than 40 on-line PartAn line instruments installed and operating globally, and many more lab models.

To read more technical detailed descriptions on this subject check our Application Note by clicking here

Or you can watch our on-demand webinar that details our proprietary analysis.

Interested in seeing if the PartAn is right for your?  Request a complimentary sample analysis by clicking here.

Shaping Up Your Granular Fertilizer for Market Growth

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by Microtrac

Shaping Up Your Granular Fertilizer for Market Growth

With the continuing exponential global growth in human birth rate and increasing life expectancy there will necessarily be the same exponential growth in demand for food, for both humans and livestock. This also means that the demand for fertilizer to grow crops will be increasingly exponential. There has been about a 32% market growth for granular fertilizer over last 20 years and that rate will increase for those reasons given.

Also, nitrogen-based fertilizer makes up about 2/3 of the fertilizer manufactured globally. The US imports almost 1/2 of the total nitrogen-based fertilizer used there from countries whose natural gas resources have been more plentiful and cheaper than in the US (nitrogen-based fertilizer is processed from air and natural gas). The recent surge in usable natural gas resources in the US will lower nitrogen-based fertilizer production cost and bring more nitrogen-based fertilizer manufacturing back to the US.

Given this optimistic outlook in the demand for fertilizer globally, what do granular fertilizer manufacturers need to do to ensure they remain competitive in the marketplace? They have to maximize their productivity and optimize the quality of their product.

Process productivity is best maximized using fast on-line feedback control of the process. This not only raises the production rate, but it also reduces unscheduled plant downtime due to process upsets which aren’t detected early enough, and it allows the process to reach maximum equilibrium upon start-up as soon as possible.

And what about quality? The agriculture and fertilizer industries have determined that a very narrow size distribution of granules with a very high sphericity provides the most efficient leach, or solubility, rate of the fertilizer into the soil for optimum crop growth rate.

There is one particle characterization technology which measures not only many different sizes (length, width, thickness, surface area for example, but also many different shapes (aspect ratio, sphericity, surface roughness for example). That technology is 3-Dimensional Dynamic Image Analysis and is available from only Microtrac. Microtrac has over 20 on-line instruments like this installed in over twenty granular fertilizer plants globally.

To read more technical detailed descriptions on this subject check our Application Note by clicking here

Or if you prefer, watch this short on-demand webinar presentation.


Recent Hires Emphasize Microtrac’s Commitment to European Growth

Posted on: June 12th, 2015 by Microtrac 1 Comment

(June 12, 2015) – Montgomeryville, PA – Microtrac, the global pioneer of particle characterization solutions since 1974, would like to announce the hiring of two integral employees that will greatly enhance our ability to deliver outstanding customer support and drive future growth in Europe.  Joining Microtrac is Tanja Siefert, Sales Assistant, and Dr. Thomas Benen, D-A-CH Sales Manager.  Both Tanja and Thomas will be based out of Microtrac GmbH, located in Krefeld, Germany.

“We are delighted that Tanja and Thomas joined the expanding Microtrac family,” says Paul Cloake, President of Microtrac. “Both will provide valuable contributions to achieve long-term growth in Germany and all of Europe.”

Tanja’s primary responsibility will be handling customer requests, including scheduling demos, generating quotes, or providing after sales support.  Cloake continues, “Tanja was the perfect hire for this role because of her outgoing personality and previous experience as a Sales Assistant for a leading valve company.  Any current and future customer is in good hands when they interact with Tanja.”

Thomas, who will cover Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, brings with him a wealth of life science and lab instrumentation experience gained from his time in academia (University of Regensburg and University of Hamburg) and industry (Malvern/Nanosight).

“I am excited to join the team of the recently-founded Microtrac GmbH. I see huge growth potential for Microtrac in the D-A-CH region. We have a strong foundation for success: excellent technology and extremely dedicated and skillful colleagues. I worked several years in the particle characterization industry, and I know that all classes of Microtrac instruments provide unique and outstanding features,” says Thomas.

As materials change, one thing remains constant: Microtrac’s ability to deliver accurate, precise, and durable particle characterization solutions.  Research and quality control departments have relied on Microtrac instruments and technical expertise for the last 40 years.  Microtrac GmbH, located at Campus Fichtenhain 42 D-47807 in Krefeld, Germany, features a fully functional lab that can measure particles ranging in size from under 1 nanometer to several inches.  Interested parties who would like to schedule a complimentary sample analysis can make arrangements by emailing [email protected].

Our door is always open for people who want to learn about our innovative particle characterization solutions.

Our door is always open for people who want to learn about our innovative particle characterization solutions.

Making their Microtrac debut, Thomas and Tanja will be showcasing the following instrumentation at ACHEMA, the worlds premier forum for the process industry: Nanotrac Wave – DLS system for accurate multi-modal nanoparticle analysis, TRI-BLUE – rugged, laser diffraction analyzer provides precise and repeatable measurement from10 nm to 700 microns, and PartAn3D – the only 3D dynamic image analyzer on the market that measures a particles length, width, and thickness in one analysis. To learn more about these instruments, please visit the exhibit located at Hall 4.2 Stand J72 from June 15 to June 19.

Cant make it ACHEMA, but want to learn about our particle analyzers?  Click here to contact our team of technical specialists.

How to break up with your sieve webinar

Posted on: June 3rd, 2015 by Microtrac

How To Break Up With Your Sieve Webinar.

Insert cliché about getting out of your comfort zone here — [                ]

We have all been exposed to messages that stress the value and benefits of escaping your comfort zone, but for many, that is easier said than done.  Let’s be real, change can be a pain in the you know what.  However some changes do produce favorable outcomes, like starting a diet and exercise plan, (it’s beach season) stashing money for a “rainy day,” or ending a tumultuous relationship.

In the material science world, using sieves to measure particle size distributions is a fairly common practice that has been around for many years. Sieves provide data that is “good enough” for ensuring optimal product quality, so why change and move on to something better?

Good enough isn’t cutting it anymore, especially when there have been significant advances made over the last 25 years to develop superior sieve analysis alternatives.

Join us on June 11th at 11am EST for a free presentation that will demonstrate a tool that has been replacing sieves all over the world for the last twenty years. “How To Break Up With Your Sieve,” we felt, was the most appropriate title for the webinar that introduces our powerful 3D Dynamic Image Analyzer.


If you are interested in learning how you can improve your analysis capability by replacing sieves, then you need to register now by clicking here. 

The webinar will highlight the following shortcomings of sieves and explain how they can become a thing of the past with implementation of the PartAn3D, Microtrac’s superior sieve alternative.

  • Unreliable – over time screens become worn, which negatively influence analysis results and could have profound impact on the finished product.
  • Time-consuming – sieve analysis takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to complete.  When you multiply that over a long shift, you can quickly see that valuable time is being wasted.
  • One dimensional – sieves can only measure one parameter – size and can’t measure individual particles.  What happens when your material changes during your process?  Sieves can’t accurately detect variations.
  • “it’s not you, it’s me” – We can’t entirely blame the sieve. Operator error is one of the most common reasons sieve analysis results become compromised.

By replacing sieves with the PartAn3D, users will be able to measure their particles, faster, and more accurately, with the added benefit of being able to identify product variations in real time.  Specific application examples will be utilized during the presentation to demonstrate our technology, and there will be ample time for Q&A with Microtrac technical specialists after the webinar.

Not ready to completely give up on your sieve?  We will also present our ability to blend sieve and laser diffraction data to ensure cohesive analysis results.

Here is what you missed on June 11th!

Contact Microtrac to speak with a technical specialist. 

PartAn 3D- making the road safer, one glass bead at a time.

Posted on: February 9th, 2015 by Microtrac

PartAn 3D- making the road safer, one glass bead at a time.

Ever sit back and wonder how the road is able to stay visible during the night?  No, it’s not a space age LED light doing the work, it’s actually a much more simpler mechanism.

Since the 1940’s, reflective glass beads have been used to illuminate roadways because of their durability and effectiveness.  What makes them “work,” is a phenomenon called retroreflectivity, or the ability to reflect light directly back at the source (car), enabling the driver to “see” the markings.   In order to achieve optimal retroreflectiviity, glass beads must have a specific transparency and sphericity.  Current methods used to measure the quality of these vital morphology parameters are labor intensive and involve a fair amount of guesswork.

That’s where we come in.  Microtrac, the global pioneer of particle characterization solutions, developed a special “glass bead algorithm” in the PartAn 3D to provide a superior analysis method that can accurately and precisely measures the sphericity and transparency of these materials.


For a more technical explanation about the PartAn 3D’s ability to measure glass beads, click here to view our technical note. 

Located at booth 1236 at the American Traffic Safety Services Association annual convention and Expo, Microtrac will be displaying the functionality of the PartAn 3D, the only 3D particle size and shape analyzer on the market. 

Commonly referred to as the ATSSA, this year’s event is being held in sunny Tampa, Florida at the Tampa Convention Center from February 8 – 10.  The ATSSA brings together a collection of DOT officials and equipment providers from all over the globe to learn about the latest developments in roadway safety technology and network with peers.

We look forward to seeing you in Tampa.

Can’t make it Tampa this week but would like to learn about the PartAn 3D?  Click here to contact a Microtrac technical specialist.

Particle sizers on display for the ceramic community – ICCACC’15

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 by Microtrac

Particle sizers on display for the ceramic community – ICCACC’15

Sun, sand, and all things ceramics.  What more could you ask for from the 39th International Conference and Exposition on Advanced Ceramics and Composites, commonly referred to as the ICCACC?  The 2015 version is being held at the Hilton Daytona Beach Resort and Ocean Center, in beautiful Daytona Beach, Florida from 1/25/15 to 1/30/15.  The ICCACC is the premier event in the ceramic industry that is attended by material scientist and technology providers from around the world.

Typically, networking with peers and swapping stories about the latest industry trends is at the top of your priority list. But perhaps part of your agenda is to evaluate capital equipment for purchase in 2015.  If a particle analysis solution is on your radar, then you need to stop by booth 325 to check out the only 3D particle size and shape analyzer on the market.

Microtrac, the global pioneer of particle characterization will be displaying the PartAn 3D, a particle size and shape analyzer that measures dry materials ranging in size from 15 microns to 35 millimeters.  The technology driving the PartAn 3D is Dynamic Image Analysis, but what makes the PartAn 3D unique is it’s ability to measure all three dimensions of a particle; length, width, and thickness, which provides the user with a superior measurement compared to 2D image analysis.


Pictured above is an illustration of how the PartAn 3D measures particles. By capturing multiple orientations of the same particle, the PartAn 3D provides a level of detail unlike any other analyzer on the market.

In addition to the 3D capability, the PartAn 3D can measure 32 morphological parameters that include size, shape, surface roughness, flakiness, sphericity, aspect ratio, and transparency (to name a few).

Don’t be overwhelmed by all of those parameters.  Most applications will only use several to analyze the material based upon their quality control protocol, and besides the software allows you to display the parameters you are interested in reporting.

The software features three very powerful data reporting options including filter functions, view particles, and scatter grams.  When used for quality control purposes, users can see process variations in real-time, enabling quick and decisive actions to rectify the problem.


Pictured above is the view particles screen. This screen shots shows an SOP set up that sorts particles in three categories; top right – raw material, middle – good particle, and bottom – bad particle (agglomerated).

Interested in using Dynamic Image Analysis to control your process in an online capacity?  Microtrac offers the PartAn PRO series, a complete suite of online analyzers.  For more information on the product line, click here. 

If Dynamic Image Analysis isn’t for you, don’t worry.  Microtrac also offers Laser Diffraction and Dynamic Light Scattering instrumentation to meet your particle characterization needs.

Not able to make it to Daytona this week?  No problem, click here to contact a Microtrac Sales Specialist.

Dynamic Image Analysis verses Static Image Analysis

Posted on: August 31st, 2014 by Microtrac

Dynamic Image Analysis verses Static Image Analysis.

Which one is right for me?

Static IA’s are basically bench-top optical microscopes equipped with a motorized stage which moves stepwise to different locations where the frames of particles, dispersed dry, are photographed. The image file is stored in the controlling computer and analyzed by measuring the size and locations of the image pixels.  One beneficial effect of static IA is the preferred orientation the particles assume when they are dispersed on the stage. Particles will tend to land on their largest, most stable side, which leaves their largest projected area facing upward toward the camera. This allows the image to be photographed showing its two largest dimensions, length and width, generally the two most important dimensions.

From the largest projected area view, the largest area, perimeter, length and width can be calculated. And from various ratios of those sizes many different particle shape parameters are derived. Good dispersion of fine powders is always a greater problem with dry dispersion than wet dispersion. Dry dispersion allows cohesive fine powers to easily form small clumps when dispersed on the glass stage. One method most static IA’s use to combat this is to employee a technique called z-stacking. The camera can be set to take anywhere up to about 8 different photos of each frame, each focusing on a different depth into the particle clump, or agglomerate. The photos are then imaged on top of each other. This does give a better view of the agglomerate, but the user has to be interested in the agglomerate size and shape rather than that of the individual particles.

Dynamic IA’s use a rapidly flashing strobe light to illuminate dry particle streams or streams of suspensions or emulsions flowing through a glass flow cell on the other side of which is the digital camera capturing and digitizing the particle’s or droplet’s image. From that point on the image processing and results analysis is about the same in both static and dynamic analyzers. Dynamic analyzers are generally better at easily dispersing fine particles using surfactants or organic solvents for cohesive organic particles. Some static analyzers offer a wet cell option which are cumbersome to use and suffer from particles floating and moving at different levels in the liquid in the cell – out of focus.

Most dynamic IA’s allow random orientation of the particles flowing through the sensing cell. This has the effect of adding noise to the data. The farther the shape diverges from something close to spherical or blocky-shaped, the greater the noise effect. Imagine particles shaped like a deck of playing cards.  The view of importance in Image Analysis is the view one sees looking straight at the front or back of the card, the largest projected area (largest and second largest distance, largest area and largest perimeter). Any other view decreases these values. Some few dynamic suspension Image Analyzers have made excellent strides in designing flow/pump/cell systems that come very close to projecting the largest particle area toward the camera. Another dry dynamic Image Analyzer addresses the problem by capturing up to 20 separate images of each particle, thereby giving a high probability of capturing images that come very close to both the largest and smallest projected area. From the smallest projected area, the third major axis, thickness, can be measured, providing 3-D Image Analysis, which gives much more accurate size and shape information than 2-D analyses do.

For information on the only patented 3-D dynamic Image Analyzer click here 

To learn more about how the measurement is made, click here .

To speak with a Microtrac technical specialist today, click here. 

Improve the efficiency of your nanoparticle measurements with Microtrac’s innovative suite of particle characterization solutions.

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by Microtrac

Improve the efficiency of your nanoparticle measurements with Microtrac’s innovative suite of particle characterization solutions.

Microtrac, the global pioneer of particle characterization solutions will be showcasing an innovative suite of nanoparticle analyzers at the Nanotech 2014 exhibition from June 16-17.  The event is being held at the Gaylord Convention Center, located in the National Harbor, in picturesque Prince George County Maryland.

Nanotech 2014 is the premier global nanotechnology conference for research and development professionals to learn about the latest technological advancements.  The exhibition is also a great opportunity to network and share ideas with other nanotechnology professionals from around the world.

Located at booth 106, Microtrac will be showcasing the following particle analysis instrumentation.

Nanotrac Wave – The Nanotrac Wave is a dynamic light scattering particle size analyzer that is ideal for nanoparticle multimodal distributions.  The Wave utilizes a patented enhanced optical signal, which provides users with superior accuracy and resolution when measuring multimodal distributions under 100 nanometers.  The Nanotrac Wave can measure particles ranging in size from 0.8 to 6500 nanometers.  The Nanotrac Wave can also measure Zeta Potential and Molecular Weight, making this instrument a versatile addition to your laboratory.

Nanotrac Wave Q – The Wave Q has all the main features of the Nanotrac Wave but adapted with a cuvette interface.  The Wave Q is ideal for users who are worried about cross contamination of their sample or looking to perform a high volume of measurements in a short amount of time.  Unique to Microtrac, the Wave Q features a software alert that notifies the user if there is a problem with the cuvette orientation, which greatly reduces misleading results due to cuvette “hiccups.”

Nanotrac Flex – The Nanotrac Flex is a dynamic light scattering analyzer that is ideal for in-situ particle size measurements.  The NANO-flex can measure particles ranging in size from 0.8 to 6500 nanometers.  The NANO-flex features a probe tip/detector system, that allows a user to simply “dip and measure.”  The NANO-flex can also be used for online process control.

Can’t make it to DC for the show?  No problem, please click here to contact Microtrac to arrange an onsite or virtual demo.

We look forward to seeing you in DC!

Particle characterization seminar coming to Houston, TX June 10

Posted on: June 4th, 2014 by Microtrac

Microtrac, the global pioneer of particle characterization solutions will be hosting a free seminar in Houston, Texas on June 10th, beginning at 9:00am.  The seminar will be held at the Sheraton Intercontinental Airport located at 15700 John F. Kennedy Blvd.  The seminar will last approximately three hours and will feature hands on demonstrations of Microtrac instrumentation after the presentations.

If particle analysis is part of your daily routine, then you don’t want to miss this event.  The seminar will feature three technical presentations and will focus on providing users with a detailed understanding of the latest methods used to measure particle size, particle shape, zeta potential, and surface area analysis.

The presentations will illustrate the following topics:

  • Methods used for particle size analysis
  • Advantages of laser light scattering combined with dynamic image analysis
  • Reducing cost and increasing efficiency using particle size characterization
  • 3D Imaging analysis of drill solids
  • Online particle analysis
  • Basic and enhanced methods for surface area analysis
  • Advanced methods for absorption of multiple-gases

Guest speakers for the seminar include:

Dr. Philip Plantz, Microtrac’s Application Manager – Dr. Plantz is a graduate of Drexel University and the Pennsylvania State University and has published widely on the subject of light scattering particle measurements.  With over 30 years experience as Microtrac’s Application Manager, Dr. Plantz is considered a material science expert and is great asset to the customers he interacts with on a daily basis.

Mr. Thomas Freeman, Synergy Fluid Services – A graduate of Oklahoma State University and member of API SC13, Mr. Freeman began his career in drilling fluids, overseeing technical programs for both operators and service companies.  Mr. Freeman specializes in the relationship between particle size, drilling fluids, and solids control efficiency.

Mr. Austin Schneider, Crystaphase – With a B.S in Physics from the University of Texas an a M.S in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Houston, Mr. Schneider has been in the hydrocarbon filtration and refinery business for nearly 10 years.  At Crystaphase, he and his team rely heavily on particle size analysis to assist them in delivering customized filtration solutions.

Reserve today, space is limited.  We look forward to seeing you in Houston!

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