Illuminating a dimly lit town — Background of the Development of the W Container and ARV-310LED
March 11, 2020｜Topic
There must be quite a number of people who struggle to mix high-viscosity and high-density materials.
We are certain that you apply your ingenuity to address this problem in a number of creative ways but if you come to us, we will be more than happy to introduce you to our W Container and ARV-310LED mixer specifically designed for high-viscosity and high-density materials ( ARV-50LED, ARV-310LED).
In this issue, we will share with you the background of the development of the W Container and the ARV-310LED.
Consulted by a Chinese LED manufacturer
The Thinky mixer is used in a wide range of industries not only in Japan but in the rest of the world, including the U.S.A., Europe, Southeast Asia which is the production base for the mixer, and also Eastern Europe. Among the many applications, a large number of companies have, over the years, deployed the mixer to disperse fluorescent substances for the fabrication of LEDs (light-emitting diodes), and we are very proud of the fact that we have contributed to helping LED lighting become prevalent the world over.
Our first visit to a Chinese LED maker more than 10 years ago prompted us to develop a product specifically for LED materials.
Upon arrival, we were led to a dimly lit room, and as soon as a company worker warned us that “We will turn on the latest model of our LED, so don’t be surprised,” an LED light installed on the wall shone intensely.
* The photograph is for illustrative purposes only.
In those days, LED lighting products had just begun hitting the shelves in Japan. A single LED bulb was as expensive as several thousand yen, and there was no LED lighting fixture in my home. Partly because of the fact that it didn’t look familiar, I remember being surprised at the intense beam.
”High-density fluorescent materials didn’t mix well“
Following this demonstration, we were led to the room next door as our host said, “We have something to consult you about.” Several people were working in the room and there were three units of the Thinky mixer ARE-250 (currently, ARE-310) installed, which were working incessantly. Then, he showed us some materials, saying, “The fluorescent substance for high-intensity LEDs actually doesn’t mix well.”
An LED fluorescent substance and resin before being mixed. * The photograph is for illustrative purposes only.
The material was coarser than any other fluorescent substance that I had ever seen, and at first glance, I noticed that its grain diameter was large. I intuitively thought that if this were mixed as is, it would settle without being fully dispersed. When I asked him for a demonstration, just as I thought, the fluorescent substance settled at the bottom of the container.
Then, taking a firm hold of my right hand, the fellow entreated me to make sure that it could be mixed well to spread LED lighting throughout the world. I was moved by his passion.
In those days, various companies in China had entered the LED market and they all faced this challenge associated with mixing materials. The materials were similar fluorescent substances and every one of the makers asked us if there was any way of mixing them properly. Because I had no solution to the problem at that time, all I could do was apologize.
*The photograph is for illustrative purposes only.
In Chinese local cities at that time, there were many dimly lit places without street lights, and in order to illuminate these place with LED lighting, I wanted to solve this issue any way I could.
As one of the ways of mixing materials with different specific gravities, we can slow the speed of revolution so as to prevent them from settling out or adjust the ratio of the numbers of revolution to rotation. Unfortunately, the effect is limited and far from satisfying the customer’s request. It proved more challenging than I had expected, but whenever an experiment came to a deadlock, the dark towns without street lights came back to haunt me every time. Then, I would braced myself up and kept conducting experiments one after the other. However, I began to feel the limitations of merely adjusting the machine, and a mood of resignation gradually began spreading throughout the company.
Inspiration from a kids’ TV program
About three or four months after I began tackling the problem, I happened to turn on the TV at home while a science program for kids was being broadcast. As I idly watched the program, a teacher in a white coat appeared with a round-bottom flask in his hand. He poured water in it, set it above a burner and lit the flame. He was explaining that heat convection was being induced. Heated water moved upward and outward on the water surface and then moved downward again along the outer region. This made me imagin materials convecting in the Thinky Mixer and I thought that this might be my solution!
* The photograph is for illustrative purposes only.
That was the moment I realized that if the bottom of the container were round like a round-bottom flask, it would probably induce convection, which, in turn, would mix the materials well.
Immediately after trying it, I was able to obtain the most evenly mixed material so far. Through trial and error, I ended up creating a container with a dip in the center. As I noted in the patent application, the point is to make a nice circle inside the container.
The cross section of this container resembles the letter W, so it eventually came to be called the “W Container”. When we brought the W Container and the optimized machine (later, the ARV-310LED) to the LED company in China, the fluorescent substance was mixed nicely on our first try. As we had carried out experiments time and time again before the visit, I was certain that the demonstration would go well but did not expect the material to be mixed so beautifully. We may have been more impressed than the customer.
I had an opportunity to visit that local city in China again five or six years later. Looking out from the car, I saw LED lights here and there. Although we have no idea to what extent the Thinky Mixer contributed to this, the city was brighter and the life of the people who lived there must have become easier. I truly feel privileged to have been able to take up this challenge associated with LED materials.
We have marketed the finalized machine, that is, the ARV-310LED, along with the W Container that we created after drawing inspiration from a round-bottom flask. Since mixing LED materials prompted us to develop this machine, we added “LED” to the name of the product. It is a perfect choice for mixing any high-density material other than fluorescent substances for LEDs.
If you have any sedimentation issue with high-density materials, we strongly encourage you to try the ARV-310LED.
The vacuum-type Thinky mixer ARV-310, which was already available at that time (current model:ARV-310P which comes with a communication capability). This and the ARV-310LED featured in this story are as alike as two peas in a pod!
The photo on the left shows the ARV-310LED. There is only a slight difference in the panel but the results of mixing are hugely different.