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Polymer windows allow equipment to be inspected safely

11 October, 2012

A British-developed technology for viewing equipment inside control and switchgear cabinets safely in several different spectra, is entering production in the US. The Platinum inspection windows, developed by Chelmsford-based Iriss, allow maintenance personnel to inspect equipment in the ultraviolet and visible light bands, as well as in three infrared spectra, without needing to open the enclosures or interrupt the operation of the equipment. Users can perform thermographic surveys and other inspections of the energised equipment without being exposed to any danger.

Traditionally, fluoride crystal materials have been used for such inspection windows, but these materials can break, especially in the presence of vibration. Even slamming an enclosure door can cause a crystal window to shatter. This is a particular problem in the food and pharmaceutical sectors because it raises the risk of contamination.

Iriss’ patented clear, impact-resistant polymer, called Poly-View, is claimed to overcome this drawback. The polymer windows (above) have an unconditional lifetime warranty against breakage. The windows also overcome the limitation of some earlier polymer materials that were transparent in the infrared region but were opaque to visible light, thus preventing visual inspections. The new windows can be used to check equipment by eye and to take photographs.

The chemically insert polymer windows are reinforced by aluminium honeycomb grilles, and are unaffected by acids, alkalis, moisture, humidity, vibration or high-frequency sounds.

Iriss is manufacturing the polymer windows at a $5.7m plant in Florida. One reason for choosing this location is that the US already has legislation that governs the opening of enclosures. At the moment there is no equivalent legislation in Europe, although Iriss’ head of sales, David Hinds, expects similar legislation to be introduced in the EU within a few years.

Hinds says that the polymer windows – which can be made in almost any shape or size – could be bent around equipment such as motors, gearboxes and pumps to perform thermographic and other forms of inspection safely.




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