This article was written based on an interview with Mr. Kai Niiranen, the R&D Engineer at Sparklike Oy, the person who has developed the never-before-seen analysis technology that allow the measurement of insulating gas fill without breaking the insulating glass unit or without having any extra components inside. Mr. Niiranen has held the position as Sparklike’s R&D Engineer since 2010.
“Increasing number of new insulating glass units have coating on both sides. While Sparklike Handheld™ device is optimal for measuring the gas concentration of standard double glazed insulating glass unit, a new technology was needed to make a non-invasive gas concentration measurement through a coated and/or laminated glass”, Mr. Niiranen says.
Kai Niiranen holds a Master's Degree in Optical Technology and a Bachelor's Degree in Automation and Electronics. His past job experiences include working as Production Engineer in brain navigation and stimulation manufacturing company Nexstim and as Testing Engineer in mammography manufacturing company Planmed. They are both high technology companies in Finland with worldwide business operations.
Development of Sparklike Laser™ devices
Mr. Niiranen developed the Sparklike Laser™ product line to correspond to the changes in the insulating glass industry, where an ever-increasing number of insulating glass units are manufactured with coating on both sides. Thus, a new technology was needed to enable non-invasive gas concentration measurement through coating and laminated glasses.
Bearing that in mind, the initial development process was started by first, searching and comparing a plethora of non-invasive measurement techniques used in gas detection. After which, it was time to rule out techniques which were not capable of making a measurement through glass; clear, coated or laminated.
During the 3rd phase of the development process, Mr. Niiranen started to compare the remaining options by using criteria such as; possible achievable accuracy, price, size and the power needed in terms of input and output. From there he narrowed down the different options to one choice, which was to utilize the laser based TDLAS technology.
All devices within the Sparklike Laser™ product line are based on TDLAS (Tuneable Diode Laser Absorption Spectroscopy). By using this technology, the device measures oxygen and from there, the amount of argon, krypton or other insulating gas, can be calculated.
When measuring the gas concentration inside an IG unit, the laser beam goes through the first pane and is reflected to the detector from the first surface of the second pane. In addition, with a triple insulating glass unit, the laser beam goes through two panes and is reflected from the third pane.
Finally, in order to get the focused laser beam to the correct measuring point, the IG dimensions are first scanned. This is done by moving the focused laser beam through the IG and collecting the reflected signal in order to obtain accurate dimensions of the IG. This, in return, enables the calculation of the gas concentration(s).
As Sparklike Laser™ product line was developed to correspond to the changes in the insulating glass industry, Mr. Niiranen first developed the Sparklike Laser Standard™ device which is an offline solution for test laboratories and desktop use.
This device was later integrated into a robust case with wheels and a battery for mobility in factories and building sites, and labelled Sparklike Laser Portable™. The third and latest addition to the product line is Sparklike Laser Online™, which is a custom-made solution that is integrated to an insulating glass (IG) line for automated inspection.
Sparklike Laser™ measurement through different IGU layers
Different IGU coatings have different transmissions. Opposite for transmission, is reflection. Simple equation for reflection is R = 1 – T, where T is transmission.
When measuring an IG unit with a low transmission on the first pane and high transmission (low reflection) on the surface where the beam is reflected to the detector, the measurement signal is small and the device accuracy can be reduced. On the other hand, when the situation is opposite, the reflected signal as the device accuracy, is high.
The following figure shows different low-e product transmissions versus wavelength, where the vertical red line indicates the laser (wavelength = 760 nm) used in the Sparklike Laser™ devices.
Low-e products transmission as a function of wavelength
As we can see from the above figure, different coatings have different transmission spectrum and the transmission depends on the wavelength.
New features and add-ons coming up for Sparklike Laser™ product line
In addition to being responsible for creating new measurement techniques and devices at Sparklike’s HQ in Helsinki, Mr. Kai Niiranen is also responsible for the research and continuous development of Sparklike Laser™ devices’ newest features.
The newest add-ons are Sparklike barcode reader, Wi-Fi connection and different language options for the Laser Software by Sparklike.
“The idea for adding barcode reader option came from our customers. When our specialists interviewed the insulating window and door manufacturers, it became clear that analyzing the gas concentration of the products is faster and more convenient if they have the possibility to read the IGU information with a barcode reader”, says Mr. Niiranen. “This soon available add-on is a complete feature that includes Sparklike barcode reader, holder and software”, Mr. Niiranen continues.
Another option that has been greatly requested, is Sparklike Laser™ with a Wi-Fi connection to the local network. This new add-on enables the collection of measuring data wirelessly from the device, thus making the data handling and saving to the local database much easier and faster.
Finally, the Laser software by Sparklike’s user interface can soon be changed according to the operator’s personal preference. Language options will include English, German, French and Italian. More languages will be available in the near future.
Additional services for Sparklike Laser™ devices
In addition to device, software and add-on development, Sparklike also offers customized device training for their customers as well as general consultation for non-destructive insulating gas fill measurement.
Finally, Sparklike also offers glass testing services. The testing can be done for double and triple, coated and laminated glasses.
Also, flat glass samples can be tested for their light transmission quality and to find out how Sparklike’s measurement equipment comply with specific coatings.
This service option has been increasingly popular, partly due to fact that it’s free of cost and allows insulating glass manufacturers, construction engineers, consultants and architects to access a service that has – prior to the creation of Sparklike Laser™ product line – been inaccessible to them.
To download the leaflet for Sparklike Laser™ product line, please click the link below: