Monday, October 19, 2015

Quality Control in Food Processing and Packaging Industries

September was “National Food Safety Month” in the U.S. This 30-day event reminds us of the importance of food safety in more than one way. Although the food itself is of the utmost importance, quality control in the food processing and packaging are of the same rank. National Food Safety Month reinforces the message that effective quality control measures are needed to ensure food safety.

Now that we’ve hit October, it’s important to remember that food safety and quality control are necessary throughout the year, and here at Mark-10 we’d like to remind folks that we can help out on the quality control side. In recent months, the topic of food safety has been at the forefront of the industry and customers alike, with widely publicized recalls related to food packaging malfunctions, contamination, and other safety issues. One example is last month’s recall of cheese slices. Another example is the recall of ice cream products earlier this year.

The topic of food safety needs to be addressed on an ongoing basis. What specific steps can
professionals within the food industries take now? Food industry professionals are advised to review food safety strategies to ensure compliance with food safety regulations. Additional advice suggests that food safety professionals take the time to create “a written food safety plan that identifies and evaluates known or reasonably foreseeable hazards for each type of food manufactured, processed, packed or held at the facility.”

Quality control should be at the heart of any safety plan. It can be achieved and maintained in food processing and packaging by implementing preventive controls to monitor and perform verification activities, confirming controls are working properly. A few examples of preventive controls would be process controls, recall plans, and testing.

On the testing side, Mark-10 can help with a range of force and torque measurement solutions for applications including food ripeness and hardness, package peel testing, bottle cap torque testing, tensile testing of packaging materials, and many others. From handheld force and torque gauges to complete PC-controlled motorized systems, Mark-10 products are at home in laboratories as well as production lines. Click here to learn how Mark-10 can help you in your food and beverage testing applications.

Monday, September 28, 2015

A Force Gauge for Every Need and Budget

A force gauge is a force gauge, right? Well, not quite. Today’s advanced force gauges can pack more punch than closet-sized materials testers from decades past. But sometimes, keeping it simple is preferred.

With more than 25 years of experience designing and manufacturing force gauges, we’ve grown and enhanced our product offerings to include a solution for every need and budget. Consider the following short summary of our 5 gauge series, from basic up to industry-leading sophistication.

Series 2 gauges represent our most economical option and are designed to complete tension and
compression force testing applications up to 500 lbF. Featuring a backlit display with peak force capture, a compact aluminum housing, and selectable units of measurement, this gauge series satisfies everyday force measurement needs.

Series 3 gauges feature the same compact dimensions as Series 2, with the addition of USB data output for continuous or single-point readings, pass/fail limit indicators, a visual load bar to indicate when an overload is imminent, and capacities from 0.12 to 500 lbF (0.5 to 2,500 N).

Series 4 gauges are another step up, with the additional functionality of memory for 50 saved readings, USB, RS-232, Mitutoyo, and analog outputs, and accuracy of ±0.2% of full scale.

Series 5 is one of our more popular gauge series, with a compelling mix of sophistication and affordability. Featuring a fast sampling rate of 7,000 Hz, accuracy of ±0.1% of full scale, 1,000-point data memory, and advanced modes for measuring average force and external trigger, Series 5 fits almost any force measurement need.

Our flagship Series 7 is our engineers’ pride and joy, with a set of functions and specifications that truly set it apart. Industry-leading 14,000 Hz captures peak readings with amazing accuracy, even for quick-duration tests. Continuous data capture and storage at up to 14,000 Hz eliminates the need for expensive data acquisition hardware. Testing throughput is greatly increased through the gauges’ productivity enhancing functions – automatically output / save / re-zero upon sample break, program up to 3 functions for a footswitch activation, program a custom unit of measurement, and much more.

Too much information to digest? Fear not. Our handy force gauge comparison chart summarizes the major differences among the series, while pricing is provided on our website. Contact us directly for more information.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Using Force Measurement to Ensure Product Integrity

Mark-10 force testers can be used in a variety of industries. We focus heavily on uses in the packaging, medical, and automotive industries, but did you know that our products have also been used to test the integrity of candle wicks?

A candle manufacturer approached Mark-10 when they needed to improve their production process to help minimize rework and recalls. When a candle is made, the wick must be centered and straight throughout the entire profile of the candle to ensure the candle burns evenly. Most candles have a wick secured to a metal clip crimped to one end, which helps to stabilize the wick during the candle manufacturing process. Tension is applied to the free end of the wick during the wax solidification process to ensure it stays centered. However, the tension could end up separating the wick from the clip, resulting in a manufacturing failure and lost product. 

To help the candle manufacturer reduce these failures, Mark-10 supplied a pull tester that measured the force required to separate the candle wick from the clip. The tester then transmits the data to a PC for further analysis, which helped the candle manufacturer improve quality and consistency of their products.

To read more case studies and to learn how Mark-10 can help your company reduce manufacturing failures, visit our website. We also post more company updates on our Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mark-10 Launches Redesigned Website

You may have noticed that we’ve been busy recently. In addition to new products, our new catalog, and our new profile video, we’ve also unveiled a new website. Building upon the success of our previous site, the new site continues to offer a clean, easy to navigate experience, with lots of technical information and pricing. Refreshed graphics and enhanced readability enhance the overall experience. Visitors can find an array of information on our homepage, including company news, upcoming tradeshows and exhibits, and navigation to our other pages on the left-hand side. Customers can easily learn more about our force and torque measurement solutions, common industries and applications, distributor lists, and frequently asked questions. Additionally, we also offer live, online help to all of our visitors for any questions that may come up while on our site.

We encourage all new and returning customers to visit our new site and take a look at the re-design. To stay up-to-date on all the latest Mark-10 news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mark-10 Publishes New Catalog

At Mark-10 we’ve been busy unveiling new products, such as our ESM303 motorized test stand and WT3-201M motorized wire crimp pull tester. These new additions prompted us to update our catalog as well, with lots of information about our full line of digital force and torque gauges, test stands, wire crimp pull testers, ergonomics testing kits, software, grips and attachments, and accessories. Readers will see full specifications of our products, including specifications and dimensional drawings.

We’ve also included more information about the Mark-10 story, including our history, and unique engineering, manufacturing, and support capabilities. Examples of industries and applications are described, such as peel, tensile, compression, and many others in the automotive, medical device, packaging, pharmaceutical, aerospace, and sporting goods areas.

Mark-10 has been designing and manufacturing force and torque measurement solutions since 1979. As we continue to enhance and expand our product line, we’ll continue to update our customers on our Twitter,Facebook and LinkedIn pages. We encourage readers to follow us as we have several more announcements planned for this year.

To learn more about Mark-10 and to request a catalog, visit our website.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mark-10 Unveils New Motorized Wire Crimp Pull Tester

Building on the success of our manual WT3-200 wire crimp tester we have recently announced the addition of a motorized model, the all-new WT3-201M wire crimp pull tester. The WT3-201M is a motorized wire crimp pull tester that is an all-in-one solution that is designed to measure pull-off forces of up to 200 lbF for wire and tube terminations. The tester is suitable for a variety of industries and features selectable test speed with high speed approach and reverse, auto-start upon sample insertion, pass/fail indicators, audio alerts, and more. On-board data storage and statistical calculations is provided for up to 2,000 readings, with available date and time stamp for each saved data point.


The WT3-201M can accommodate wire sizes up to AWG 3 as well as custom sizes via the available machinable blank fixture. The tester conforms to numerous UL, ISO, ASTM, SAE, MIL, and other requirements for destructive testing. Non-destructive testing is also possible, such as pulling to a load or maintaining a load for a specified period of time, as per the requirements of UL 486A/B.

Additional equipment options are available for customers who want to configure a system for their application. To learn more about our new motorized wire crimp puller, visit our website. We also post more company updates and industry news on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mark-10 Launches New Motorized Test Stand

At Mark-10 we are always working to offer our customers the best force and torque measurement equipment, which is why we’re announcing our newest motorized test stand, the ESM303. This new stand replaces our ESM301 Motorized Test Stand and offers several improvements and enhancements over the ESM301.

The ESM303 Motorized Test Stand features a column that completely encloses the motor, which significantly reduces noise, offers improved aesthetics, and has a more rigid column to reduce deflection under load. We have also internalized and streamlined the cable connections for a clean, ergonomic look. The gauge interface cable attaches directly to the crosshead, and powers the gauge so no AC adapter is needed. We have also included a USB output so a USB converter is no longer needed.

The current position is now memorized between power cycles. The ASCII command set for PC control now includes all Mark-10 force gauge commands. The control panel has dedicated FollowMe™ and Zero Travel buttons and the FollowMe™ function moves the crosshead at a variable rate of speed, proportional to the amount of force applied by hand to the force gauge’s load cell. The available Profiles option allows the user to save, name, and recall up to 50 test setups (i.e. speeds, distance limits, cycles, etc.). Additionally, the controller mounts to the side of the column and can be easily removed for remote operation.

The overall height of the ESM303 is similar to the ESM301 but the new stand features a modular mechanical design that allows for single- and double-column extensions to accommodate a variety of applications.

To learn more about the new ESM303 Motorized Test Stand, visit our website. We post more company news on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Factory Automation Drives Demand for Inline Metrology

As the cost of industrial robots decreases, more and more manufacturers are investing in automation, especially automotive suppliers and assemblers. With advances in production automation, the market for inline metrology solutions has expanded rapidly. According to an analysis from Frost & Sullivan, the dimensional metrology market in particular is predicted to reach over $1.2 billion by 2018. The report also mentions that as more companies move towards automated production lines, an end-to-end automated inline metrology solution will be key for manufacturers.

At Mark-10 we have extensive experience supplying force and torque measurement devices to the auto industry. From bench top turnkey test systems to gauges, sensors, and accessories, we help suppliers and assemblers achieve quality control objectives. Our instruments can interface with PCs and PLCs via USB, RS-232, analog, set points, and other outputs. For example, set point outputs can trigger an alarm if a pull test is below the specified value. A custom application can be written to interrogate our instruments, collect data, and change settings. Typical force and torque measurement applications include spring testing, windshield washer blade retraction force, bearing torque, door handle pull testing, and more.

To learn more about how we’ve worked with the auto, aerospace, medical device, and many other industries,visit our website or contact us. We are also active on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn where we post more auto industry news and company updates.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Packaging Made of Both Rigid and Flexible Materials

Ana’s Food of Austin recently became the first commercial customer in North America to use both rigid and flexible material. The container features a square, injection-molded tub with flared sides that are made from rigid polypropylene posts. Then four panels of flexible and printable PP material are fused to the posts to create the sides of the container.

The company’s main objective in reformatting its packaging was to improve the sustainability and the new container uses up to 50% less plastic than regular salsa tubs. The polypropylene container is also 100% recyclable and the new design allows for easy stacking which can help reduce costs in shipping and stocking.

The trend for more sustainable packaging seems to be continuing to grow as we previously wrote a blog post about the market, which is predicted to reach $244 billion by 2018. Food manufacturers and packaging companies must ensure that the lighter packaging will still meet quality regulations as well as customers’ expectations. At Mark-10 we manufacture force and torque measurement products that not only test to ensure that the packaging will securely hold the contents but also that consumers will be able to easily open the package.

To learn more about our packaging testing solutions or to configure your own measurement system, visit our website. We also post more packaging industry news on our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Future of 3D Printing

These days it seems that 3D printing can be found in every industry, and now it’s even in space. On November 24th, 2014 Made In Space successfully 3D printed the first part at the International Space Station (ISS). Although in the past, parts have been 3D printed on Earth and then sent to space, this was the first time a part was manufactured in space. This printing marks a milestone in the technology which could make it possible to easily print replacement parts for the ISS.

More research must now be conducted on the parts that were printed in space to ensure they are of the same quality as those printed on Earth. A control group was printed on Earth and the parts printed in space will be sent back to Earth to undergo tensile strength, torque, and flexibility testing. These tests will help the Made In Space team make adjustments on its second 3D printer, which it plans to send to the ISS early in 2015.

At Mark-10 we offer a range of force and torque measurement products, ideal for numerous applications in the aerospace industry, as well as others. Whether measuring tensile force and torque for 3D printed parts, or a virtually limitless number of applications in virtually every industry, Mark-10’s modular product platform can be used by quality control, research, and engineering professionals here on Earth, and perhaps one day, beyond. To learn more, visit our website and be sure to follow us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn for more company updates and industry news.