VIDEO: Meet Watson, the Hand-Held Material Inspection Device

Powered by triboelectric effect, the Watson device simplifies training and use with smart technology.

In many high-performance industries such as aerospace, automotive and medical, the quality of the materials used to make parts and tooling is just as imperative as the design and tooling of the parts themselves.

In the video above, we talk about new advances in quality inspection of materials at the pull of a trigger using the portable, handheld Watson device.

“The Watson is a positive material identification device,” said Mark Valentine, COO of Tribogenics. “Watson is an affordable insurance for anyone manufacturing metal in the United States. In today’s market, with its influx of low quality material from other countries such as China, you don’t know unless you test in advance. That’s Watson’s job.”

Historically, lot traceability and certification systems have demanded a certain level of faith in one’s suppliers to deliver high-quality materials. Valentine explains that traditional certificate documentation is no longer enough.

“For years we’ve trusted certificates, but they’re just a photocopied piece of paper – we just can’t afford to do that anymore,” Valentine explained. “It’s not that more suppliers are trying to manufacture bad material, but that they are trying to cut down on the expensive elements in the material, like nickel and chrome. If they can shave those elements down, to the minimum the spec allows, they can maximize their profits. Sometimes they miss that minimum by a mile, pushing the material outside the hairy edge of the spec.”

The Watson’s design is reminiscent of a scanner gun, with an interface almost identical to a smart phone with touch screen capabilities.

The device comes pre-installed with a database of 450 alloys that it can reliably identify.

“If you have a specific alloy not included in the database, you can send it to our lab and we will have it categorized and add it to the library for availability,” Valentine said.

The device is battery operated and uses unique Tribogenics X-ray technology, with an accuracy of about 0.05 percent of the weight of the material, at 500 parts per million.

“We’ve invented a new way to generate X-rays,” Valentine explained. “We use static electricity through a triboelectric effect to get around using a high-voltage power supply. We built this technology into a cartridge, similar to what you’d find in an ink-jet printer. If the cartridge runs out of power, you can exchange it for a new cartridge, Watson will self-calibrate and the device will be up and running in two minutes.”

For more information, watch the video above and visit the Tribogenics website.

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.