Ultra-clean and germ-free processes are becoming increasingly important for industrial production, particularly in the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Surfaces in cleanrooms must be sealed, easy to clean well and to disinfect properly. A new concept using superconductor technology now enables contactless and precise weighing and measuring.
Keeping production in laboratories free of germs and contamination is not easy. Particularly problematic is the equipment used, for example test tubes, Petri dishes as well as measuring devices such as scales. They are brought into the screened working space from outside and can introduce germs. If they are put down on the work surface, tiny gaps are created underneath them and these are very difficult to keep clean.
These requirements can be easily met in the future by using magnetic-field-based levitation technology, e.g. with superconductor technology. The SupraSensor concept from Festo is just one of the options. It demonstrates the function of contactless scales that could, for example, be used on safety workbenches for biological or chemical analytics.
At the heart of the application is a cryostat with a superconductor that is permanently mounted on a set of precision scales under the work area. A weighing dish levitates above the area with a permanent magnet on the underside, which is coupled contactlessly to the superconductor and thus also to the scale. This is made possible by the special characteristic of superconductors that can make magnets levitate at a specific distance when they are cooled to a certain temperature.
Levitating scale for easy cleaning in a laboratory environment
When used in a laboratory environment, the workstation surface remains free of interfering structures and cleaning is both simple and effective. Only the weighing dish levitates above the table top. If it is not needed, it can be removed and the entire working space is available for use.
In addition to measuring and weighing, this technology offers many other opportunities such as analytically determining density or viscosity, precise metering or monitoring reactive or biological processes.
At the same time, the application with superconductors is very robust and stable both in terms of space and time. The levitating function that is intrinsic to the material requires no control technology and remains in place for a long period even if the power supply is interrupted.