How to Create a Sample Film using the Elcometer 4340 Automatic Film Applicator

When it comes to developing products such as paints, varnishes, cosmetics, or glues for example; it’s typical to test their properties part of their development. It’s important therefore to ensure that consistent, repeatable and reproducible films can be made in order to undertake fair and accurate tests. This is where the Elcometer 4340 Motorised / Automatic Film Applicator comes in.

In this video we’re going to show you how to create a film using a film applicator with the Elcometer 4340. While there are a wide range of film applicators available, of varying designs, they all work in pretty much the same way.

To begin, place the supplied bubble level on the table, and adjust the feet of the unit, until the table is level. Next, switch the Elcometer 4340 on using the switch at the back of the machine, followed by the green button on the control panel.

Now you can set your carriage speed – in other words, how quickly the film is applied. Simply set the dial from 1 to 11, to choose your desired speed. This should only be done when the carriage is stationary, not while the carriage is moving.

With the speed set, you now set the carriage start and stop positions, which defines the length of your film. This is set using two knobs on the back of the machine.

With the applicator’s speed and distance set, now you can mount the substrate to the table. Regardless of what kind of table you are using make sure the table and underside of the substrate are both clean.

On a standard table, mount the substrate securely using the spring clamp. This clamp can be attached at two locations on the table; one for A3 size substrates, and the other for A4 size substrates.

When using a perforated vacuum table position your substrate as shown, attach the vacuum pump using the hose to the connection on the left side of the machine, select the substrate size on the vacuum control (select ON for A3 substrates, and OFF for A4 substrates), then switch on the vacuum pump. The substrate will then be drawn onto the table and held firmly.

Any areas of the vacuum table not covered by the specimen should be covered using Scotch tape or a similar removable thin tape, to prevent any of your product from getting into the vacuum table, and to ensure the maximum amount of suction provided by the vacuum table is applied to your substrate. If you don’t have any suitable tape available, don’t worry, as strips of paper can also be used to cover the holes.

When using a double channel vacuum table, designed for thin substrates, the table is connected and started in the same way, but it only works with A3 size substrates that completely cover the channels that run around the outside of the table. As the double channel table creates a vacuum from the edges rather than through perforations, this keeps the thin material flat and secure without creating irregularities.

With your substrate mounted, now it’s time to add your chosen applicator to the carriage.

To use the majority of film applicators, rotate the carriage to the raised position, fit the applicator pushing bar into position using the knurled screws, place the applicator on the substrate until it’s touching the pushing bar ensuring the pushing bar is the correct height (this can be adjusted using the screws), and when using a lightweight applicator such as the Baker, place the supplied weight onto the two locating pegs, ensuring the applicator remains firmly in contact with the substrate.

With your applicator in-place, pour your test sample in front of your chosen tool, ensuring it is evenly spread across the width of the applicator. Try to avoid getting your product in front of the  feet of the applicator, if the one you’ve chosen has them, as this can cause the applicator to become uneven and affect the consistency of your film. Then with the machine on, press the carriage start button, and your film is created, with the carriage stopping automatically at the stop position.

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