Optical instruments use military mix UV cure adhesive

Gooch & Housego used a bench-top Thinky ARE250 mixer from Intertronics.
Engineers at optical instrument makers Gooch & Housego use a high specification UV cure adhesive in a military application.

The adhesive is pre-mixed with microspheres to ensure bondline thickness. Problems in getting a homogenous dispersion of microspheres in the mix could lead to poor fitment of the optical element and subsequent removal, cleaning and re-working, so the company used a bench-top Thinky ARE250 mixer from Intertronics.

The instrument maker had been using a manual mix and centrifuge vacuum process, which meant preparing a stock of pre-mixed adhesive. Flynn Barrett, in charge of the assembly process at the instrument maker, explains: "Any batch with a non-optimal mix gave inconsistent results, a consequent high level of material wastage and lost labour time". Using the Thinky, the company is able to mix smaller batches of adhesive using a pre-programmed cycle. Any process person at the company can mix the adhesive by following a very simple documented process with the Thinky mixer, with intuitive controls.

The non-contact planetary mixer mixes, dispenses and degasses in one process. The mixing result is consistent and reliable, claims the company, so that the customer can mix as much material as required, when required to reduce re-work costs.

The mixer can also be programmed to mix a two part sealant for a polariser prism assembly fitted inside aluminium housing. This sealant was previously mixed by hand. Both parts of the sealant are the same colour, making it difficult to see if the mix was complete, resulting in occasional uneven or uncured parts. Mixing in the Thinky in a closed cup alleviates some of the health and safety issues around handling the material. The two part sealant is quite reactive when mixed, so the process is completed in a cooling adaptor in the mixer, helping to preclude premature cure from heat build-up.

Caroline Hayes

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