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How to Select the Best Fluid Reservoir for your Dispensing Application

Finding the Perfect Solution Maximizes Efficiency & Productivity

31 May 2018

By Jim Victoria

Often the fluid reservoir for assembly fluids such as glue, oil, grease, and epoxy is decided by the fluid manufacturer. Many industrial fluids are pre-packaged in syringes, cartridges, bottles, or pails before reaching the factory floor. There are, however, a few recommendations manufacturers can consider when selecting the best possible fluid reservoir for an efficient, productive dispensing process.

Looking at the volume of products you’re manufacturing, the type of fluid you’re using, and types of fluid reservoirs available can help you choose the optimal solution and improve the quality of your dispensing results. Although it’s always best to first talk to an expert fluid application specialist, here are a few recommendations to help along your journey.

Let Your Production Volume Be Your Guide

Production capacity should be a key consideration when deciding what type of fluid reservoir you need. If your manufacturing process requires just one 10cc syringe barrel per station per shift with no issues, there’s no need to look at other solutions. If you find your process requires multiple 10cc syringe barrels per station per shift, it may be time to opt for a larger syringe, cartridge, or even a tank to reduce the downtime it takes to swap out smaller syringe barrels frequently throughout the day.

Keep in mind that dispensing syringes and cartridges may still be the best option regardless of production capacity. It depends on the material being dispensed. Because syringe barrels and cartridges are disposable, they’re easier to handle with minimal clean up or maintenance.

  • Recommendations for Low-Volume Production

    For low-volume production or very small, precise deposits, you’ll likely need a 3cc to 55cc syringe barrel. For low- to medium-volume production with high-viscosity materials, you’ll more often use a 2.5 oz to 32 oz (75 ml to 960 ml) cartridge. For lower viscosity/self-leveling materials, a tank may be considered.

  • Recommendations for Medium-Volume Production

    For medium-volume production with lower viscosity/self-leveling materials, a 1-liter (0.26 gal) or 5-liter (1.32 gal) tank would be optimal. For high-viscosity materials, a cartridge may still be the best option.

  • Recommendations for High-Volume Production

    For high-volume production and/or larger deposit sizes of lower viscosity/self-leveling materials, a tank is the best option. For high-volume production with high-viscosity materials, a ratio pump should be considered.

Cartridges Filled

Bigger Fluid Reservoirs Aren’t Always Better

It may seem like choosing a bottle or pail instead of a dispensing syringe or cartridge would increase production since it may not require replacing as often. However, certain considerations such as cleaning and wasted material should not be overlooked.

If the fluid tank you select doesn’t have a replaceable liner or accept pre-filled bottles or pails, cleaning becomes a problem, especially if the fluid is an adhesive or reactive fluid. The time it takes to clean the tank to prevent material from hardening or contaminating new material could surpass the time it takes to switch out a pre-packaged syringe or cartridge.

Fluid waste is another consideration. Industrial syringe barrels and cartridges are designed to minimize fluid waste. When fitted with perfectly matched pistons, fluid can be dispensed completely with hardly a trace residue left in the reservoir. This is important when your process requires an expensive, specialized assembly fluid.

Useful Tip: When selecting a fluid tank, always opt for a tank with a liner and a large opening that makes it easy to clean. Or opt for a tank that accepts pre-filled bottles or pails to make replacing the fluid fast and easy with no cleaning required.

Tanks are Great, but Only with Pourable Fluids

Fluid viscosity is another key consideration when selecting the optimal fluid reservoir for your dispensing application. Whereas fluid cartridges and syringe barrels can handle any fluid viscosity, fluid tanks only accept pourable or self-leveling fluids, otherwise known as low- to medium-viscosity fluids. This can impact your process when, for example, you have a high-volume production capacity and a high-viscosity fluid.

When this is the case, a ratio pump is often the best solution since it accepts pre-filled 5- and 55-gallon drums and provides up to 2500 psi (172 bar) of pressure to promote superior flow of thick fluids to the dispensing equipment.

If you have a low- to medium-volume production capacity and a high-viscosity fluid, a dispensing syringe or cartridge is best because the piston helps dispense the material evenly for accurate, repeatable results.

If you put a thick material such as petroleum jelly into a fluid tank, the tank’s pressure may introduce air tunneling into the material since the air cannot be applied evenly onto an uneven surface. This would result in inconsistent material deposits, which could create unnecessary rework and rejects.

Dispensing Method and Fluid Type Also Matter

Sometimes the method of application influences the type of reservoir you should use. For example, if the application requires a manual dispensing method, it’s often easier and more ergonomic for the operator to hold a syringe barrel as opposed to a dispense valve with air and fluid tubing connected.

On the other hand, if you have an automated cyanoacrylate or fast-curing glue application, you would likely opt for a tank as opposed to switching out multiple syringe barrels per shift. But if you had an automated silver-filled epoxy application, you may not have a choice. You may have to switch out multiple syringes barrels because of the nature of the fluid itself. Fluid reservoir selection often depends on a combination of factors, including the dispensing method, the type of fluid, and requirements of the application.

Fluid Reservoir Troubleshooting

One common pitfall when selecting a fluid reservoir is choosing a fluid reservoir without a precision pressure regulator. This often leads to inconsistent dispensing results because when you set a non-precision pressure regulator at 40 psi, it will fluctuate from 35 psi to 45 psi throughout the course of a day.

Nordson EFD fluid tanks feature precision fluid pressure regulators, which essentially means if you set one at 40 psi, it will maintain constant pressure for a much more precise, repeatable dispensing result. This creates the most efficient production process and the highest possible throughput. Fluid tanks with precision digital pressure gauges deliver the most exceptional full-to-empty fluid pressure control regardless of input pressure fluctuations.

A second common pitfall is ordering a 12 oz cartridge from EFD, thinking it will come as a caulking tube. This is not the case. EFD’s 1/10 gallon retainer system with a regulator accepts pre-filled caulking tubes. It does not, however, accept our 12 oz cartridges.

Useful Tip:It’s always best to talk to your local fluid application specialist and get an expert recommendation on the fluid reservoir that will work best for your application needs.

For more information, check out our Fluid Reservoir Selection Guide to see all of the fluid reservoirs Nordson EFD has to offer.

Have a dispensing question you’d like us to answer? Don’t hesitate to submit your question or comment at info@nordsonefd.com.

Photo of Jim VictoriaAbout Jim Victoria

Jim Victoria is a Regional Sales Manager at Nordson EFD. He manages the sales team located on the East Coast of the U.S. Jim has more than 30 years of fluid dispensing experience. He joined Nordson EFD in 1988.


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