The paint industry is constantly researching new innovative resins and paints to meet the needs of various markets, such as the automotive, aviation, and nautical industries. Each of these industries have unique requirements. For example, the resin and paint used in the automotive industry must withstand all types of road debris and weather conditions. The paint should be able to cope with these conditions and maintain its quality during the lifetime of the vehicle.

Due to the various needs of the different industries, these resins and paints must undergo extensive testing. These tests include: gloss measurements, spectrophotometer measurements and hardness measurements.

The workload would be enormous if all of these measurements had to be performed by hand. For this reason a solution is designed in the form of an automated high throughput system.

Application purpose

Panels are used for testing the coatings. It is a challenge to automate this format using a robotic arm. The automated system, known as the PaintButler platform, is designed to handle multiple coated panels, including Bonder (105190 mm) and Q-panel (76153 mm). These panels can be stored in a custom-made panel hotel that the robotic arm can access. Lab Services has the inhouse knowledge to develop various types of hotels and stackers for different panels, or other platforms containing the chemistry of your assays. The six-axis robotic arm used in this application allows the robot gripper to be positioned in any desired orientation, increasing flexibility and reachability. The designed robot gripper uses vacuum to grip and transport the panels. Each panel is provided with a barcode to differentiate the type of tests performed per panel. These barcodes are linked to a database and by scanning the barcodes individually the system will be able to determine which tests need to be performed for a specific panel.

This entire process is handled by our PlateButler Manager software. The analytical equipment in the PaintButler platform include:

  • Fischer layer thickness meter FMP40
  • Fischer HM2000S indentation hardness meter
  • Byk haze-glossmeter
  • BykMac color meter
  • Byk Wavescan dual device
Some of this equipment was modified by Lab Services to allow a fully automated operation.

Why you should choose this application

The flexibility of the PlateButler Manager software allows protocols to be run on different instruments, thereby tailoring to a demanding amount of tests and test-parameters. Key features of this custom-made solution include the custom hotels, vacuum robot gripper, and method of barcode handling enabling the fully automated system to handle test panels with diverse specifications to be tested using the variety of analytical equipment. The tests performed with each panel are entirely dependent on the information included in the barcode.

Another key feature are the protocols tailored to the application. These smart protocols allow one to test a panel multiple times with increasing time intervals between each measurement. Creating valuable information on the behaviour of the coating during the hardening process right after application on the panel. The robustness of this application allows for automated testing on a 24/7 basis. Saving both time and adding to the consistency of the testing and in between test results.
This particular project examples the flexibility in the solutions that we as an organisation can provide.


Key features
  • Custom hotels
  • Vacuum robot gripper
  • Method of barcode handling
  • Smart protocols
  • Automated testing on a 24/7 basis