To earn its place in today’s busy analytical laboratories, an instrument must meet certain practical criteria, and stand-up to rigorous economic evaluation. For labs that need particle sizing, laser diffraction systems are typically the technology of choice; delivering accurate and reliable information for the broadest range of sample types.
Here, we look at how the Mastersizer 3000, the market leading laboratory particle size analyzer from Malvern Instruments, can save you time, money and resources, and ultimately deliver a healthy return on investment.
When every measurement is sound, data integrity is secure, and repeat analysis unnecessary, boosting productivity.
The consistent production of accurate data eliminates the need for repeat measurements and is a cornerstone of high lab productivity. Developing a robust method, that will work consistently, is the first step and relies on scoping out the effect of all factors with a potential impact. Multiple features of the Mastersizer 3000 support direct investigation of the sensitivity of a method to key parameters. For example, the Optical Property Optimizer enables the user to quickly assess the sensitivity of results to the analysis parameters used to calculate particle size distributions. The Hydro Sight accessory, on the other hand, allows visual scrutiny, and statistical analysis of the state of dispersion. Such capabilities make it easier to develop a method that is inherently robust, for any specific sample.
From day-to-day measurement, it is essential that every operator can use a selected method effectively and produce consistent results. Here the Data Quality Tool can help, by assessing whether a method is being implemented correctly - whether the sample is being measured at a sufficiently high concentration, for example - and whether repeatability meets defined pharmacopoeia or ISO standards. Poor quality data is instantly detected, prompting timely remedial action and ensuring that compromised information doesn’t leave the lab.
The bottom line:
- Less repeat analyses means higher lab throughput.
- Assured analysis means high data integrity which in turn translates into:
- faster progress in R&D
- a reduced risk of product recall
- more effective troubleshooting
When measurement is rapid, crucial information can be delivered quickly to support swift and sound decision-making.
For lab managers, rapid measurement results in an increase in sample throughput, while for customers it means much needed information arrives more quickly. Once a method has been developed, measurements with the Mastersizer 3000 typically take less than a minute, up to 10 times quicker than alternative methods of particle sizing, such as sieving. Such speed is valuable when decision-making is dependent on the result. For example, minimizing the time between receipt of sample and delivery of result is the key to streamlining QA/QC and reducing the waiting times associated with raw material intake or product release. A fast turnaround is similarly crucial for responsive plant control and effective troubleshooting, to maximize manufacturing efficiency.
However, the Mastersizer 3000 doesn't just cut measurement time; it cuts the time take in method development and the effort required to handle different sample types. The Measurement Manager tool, for example, speeds method development by providing a live result trend view, and consistent real-time feedback. This constant flow of information about measurement stability, and how results are being influenced by changes in measurement conditions, makes it easier to move swiftly to a robust method for a new sample. The ability to switch rapidly from wet to dry sample types using plug and play accessories is also important for speeding the flow of samples through a busy lab handling a wide range of materials.
The bottom line:
- Faster time to result means optimized lab throughput and a more responsive service for all sample types, including new samples.
- Quicker sample turnaround aligns analysis with manufacturing needs accelerating QA/QC and improving the effectiveness of plant control.
Making the full potential of an analyzer readily accessible to every user saves time and money on training and ensures consistently high quality data. Low maintenance requirements further boost the time available to meet higher value tasks.
The drive to increase lab profitability is pushing staffing levels to a minimum, while at the same time there is a need for increased productivity as the range of routine analyses is rising. Not every analyst can be an expert on every system, but the instrument itself can help. The Mastersizer 3000 combines inviting software with in-built expert support – Malvern expertise at your benchtop. The result is a trouble-free experience for the user and minimal training requirements, a major cost saving. Routine measurement is triggered by the push of a button and real-time feedback is provided throughout the analysis for assessing performance, and identifying any potential issues with data quality. The ability to tailor data presentation to meet industry practice means that all users can easily understand the results generated.
Savings on training are multiplied when the need arises to transfer a method from, for example, R&D to a manufacturing site, or from an in-house laboratory to an outsourcing company, or when expanding production via a global network of facilities. Here, though economic benefits accrue from the lower training burden, the more important gain is arguably that everyone can easily measure sound data, an essential precursor to the secure transfer and application of a specification.
One further lightening of the routine analytical workload is delivered by the maintenance requirements of the Mastersizer 3000. Around an hour of attention a month is sufficient to keep the system in good health, freeing up time analyst time for productive activity.
The bottom line:
- Minimal training requirements and low maintenance requirements release staff for higher value work, directly delivering economic benefit.
- Accessible analysis means high quality data for every user, de-risking the information flow and method transfer.
Being able to measure every sample type that comes through the lab efficiently, with a single instrument, maximizes return on investment.
Getting the most out of an investment in analytical equipment, and maximizing usage, relies on choosing a system that can efficiently handle all the types of sample you currently analyse, with some future-proofing capacity in reserve. A fast switchover between sample types maximizes productivity on an ongoing basis.
The Mastersizer 3000 answers directly to the need for flexibility with optimized accessories for both wet and dry measurement. The Aero S dry dispersion engine has the power and efficiency to rapidly disperse tough, highly agglomerated samples, but can also be fine-tuned to extend the efficiencies of dry measurement to fine and friable particles. Wet dispersion accessories streamline the development and maintenance of stable suspensions across a range of scales, for optimal handling of all sample sizes. Switching between sample types is also quick and straightforward.
The bottom line:
- The flexibility to measure a range of sample types, in combination with efficient sample changeover, means:
- increased instrument usage and a higher return on investment
- greater lab productivity
- a future-proofed investment
Accurate and precise measurements provide greater insight into process and product performance, and enhance the sensitivity of QA/QC.
- Can measure over a wide range, with precision, without changing optics.
- Can track processes such as milling and granulation from start to finish, and detect coarse and fine particles in polydisperse samples.
- Value – provides greater insight into process performance to enhance optimization studies. More sensitive QC = enhanced product quality. Plus, the ability to measure finer particles builds in longevity since this is an industry trend.
Being able to measure accurately, over a substantial measurement range, is particularly valuable where samples have a broad particle size distribution, and/or where particle size is being changed as a result of processing. Tracking a granulation or milling process from start to finish, for example, may rely on being able to measure particles ranging from microns to millimeters in size. And the detection of coarse particles in an otherwise fine sample can be critical, to safeguard product performance. Precisely resolved particle size data will detect sample differences that a less sensitive technique is unable to detect, thereby offering more effective QA/QC and troubleshooting.
The Mastersizer 3000 answers to this need, with a measurement range of 10 nm to 3500 µm, from a single optical set-up. This means that both coarse and fine particle populations can be reliably sized and quantified in a single analysis. Repeatability is high, and by reporting over 100 size classes the instrument delivers precise resolution. With many industries trending towards the use of finer particles, the lower end of the Mastersizer 3000 measurement range is especially helpful in ensuring its place in supporting future product developments.
The bottom line:
- Precise, accurate measurement across a wide range maximizes the applicability of an instrument and delivers:
- enhanced insight for improved product and process development
- high sensitivity QA/QC
- longevity, boosting return on investment
Adding up the savings…
The laboratory environment is getting tougher. An ever-broadening range of analyses coupled with an intense pressure on productivity make it vital to rigorously assess the economic arguments associated with a technique or instrument. The Mastersizer 3000 offers value by delivering assured, accelerated measurement, accessibility and adaptability. These features save you money by increasing laboratory productivity while at the same time minimizing the manual input required to secure high quality data, freeing staff for added value tasks. Beyond the lab, reliable information, rapidly delivered, enhances process and product development, QA/QC, and plant control and troubleshooting capabilities, magnifying the instruments value. The net result is healthy long-term investment that amply repays the associated initial investment.