I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at the various wiped film systems on the market, and I’ve now pretty much selected mine, but it’s been a lot of work.
Basically, I guess what I want to know is what details the hive mind here feels truly separate a VTA from your everyday standard China wiper from a mechanical perspective (or a Beaker and Wrench for that matter, which I’ve been told sits somewhere in the middle quality-wise between them, but do your research, etc.)
My experience with German engineering is that it is frequently fantastic from a “how well does this thing work or otherwise do its job” perspective, but sometimes lacking in cost optimization areas. For one example: does everything need to be super finely polished to pharmaceutical standards? Maybe not for all customers. That’s expensive to do because it’s time consuming. There are lots of other things like this too.
I find that companies that take care of the little things tend to take care of the big things. But that doesn’t mean that you need to take care of Every Single Little Thing that exists to turn out a damn good production system.
I talked to someone who bought two of the biggest VTA things that are on their website. I wish I had his investors/backers/family, but I’m trying to do this in a way that’s a little more frugal with our capital. He likely spent about as much on those two systems as I’m spending to outfit my entire lab, which will probably be pushing out more distillate than his units. But I digress.
Anyways, from talking to a whole bunch of people, these are the things that seem important:
Ensure the entire thing has heating jackets or EHT tape or some other way of keeping the hot bits hot and the cold bits cold
Hemispherical bottomed cold traps don’t work as well as cone-bottom ones, the hemispherical ones freeze up or something?
Carbon wipers (shows up on high-end VTA stainless according to Carbon Wiper Blades WFE)
High quality feed/product removal pumps
Sensors for temp/etc (more is better)
Good mechanical tolerances throughout
Not welded by a blind crack addicted orangutan
I know that this is approaching the territory where a lot of consultants make a not insignificant amount of money, but if we help everyone select better, more cost effective equipment, everyone will benefit. (Especially consultants who will hopefully have to work on a lower fraction of shitty equipment.)
What else should be on this list?
EDIT: Also go check out this thread if you want some good lively discussion about some of the more common brands, mostly about glass but still good. Wiped Film Manufacturers