How Much Should I Spend?
We will start with the assumption that you do not want to spend more than necessary. For this reason FTA offers a broad range of instruments, hopefully one of which is close to your needs and budget.
FTA offers only what we consider to be "instruments," by which we mean a product that
has a traceable calibration available
can handle a variety of specimen types
makes a variety of different measurements
is supported by applications assistance
produces information that is easily imported into word processors and spread sheets
Simpler, lesser, products we refer to as meters. There are excellent contact angle and tensiometer meters available. For example, consider the catalogs of Cole-Parmer, VWR, and Fisher Scientific. These are not instruments, however, in the sense that we define the term.
Experience shows that the greatest factor in the overall cost of ownership is the personnel to operate the instrument (meter). Even if the instrument were to be free, there is a cost in having the capability to make the measurement. Good instrumentation minimizes this cost of ownership.
The two great variables are training and applications assistance. As you might imagine, all suppliers have pretty much the same access to and cost in cameras, micrometer stages, syringe pumps, etc. The significant differences are in their ability (and willingness) to answer your questions. This is where FTA has placed its emphasis.
The issue of training is important. This is not a simple question of how to plug in the instrument and turn it on. (You probably can do that yourself!) The important questions are
how do you prepare samples?
what precautions are necessary to minimize contamination and get good data?
how do you verify calibration?
how do you choose test liquids for contact angle measurements?
when do you need dynamic measurements and when can you use simpler static measurements?
how do you apply adhesion science to your samples?
what parts of adhesion science are exact and what parts are approximations? Are the errors in the approximations important to you?
how do you design a test so that these measurements can be used to predict product success for your company?
Unless you are experienced in making these types of measurements and you have confidence in your ability to answer the above applications questions, we recommend training. The training can be at your site or at the FTA factory. The range of training is one to four days, depending on the complexity of the instrument and the nature of the application.
If you select FTA to serve you, the subsequent choices will primarily be
how sophisticated a sample stage do you need? (A significant amount of time is spent handling and positioning samples.)
do you need a motorized dispense pump or is a hand-operated micrometer syringe satisfactory?
are microliter or millimeter sized drops OK or do you need smaller drops?
are environmental chambers necessary or can you measure under ambient conditions?
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