Watanabe : What specific kinds of applications is Prescale currently used for?
Hatta : Historically, Prescale has built a track record of use in the auto industry, primarily in pressure testing as part of the production process. In verifying the sealability of engine parts, Prescale is employed as a Japan Industrial Standard (JIS). In recent years, the appearance of a variety of new technologies, including smartphones and semiconductors, has created a need for detecting lower levels of pressure. We have continued to add to the Prescale line as other technologies and products have changed and evolved.
Yoshinari : How is Prescale used in the production of smartphones?
Hatta : For example, with smartphones and Liquid Crystal Displays, Prescale makes it very easy to check even the delicate uniformity of pressure required in the bonding process. And because it’s a film Prescale is easy to manipulate, making it possible to measure pressure even in tight spaces or along curves. As a result, manufacturers are able to improve quality control and minimize defects, contributing in terms of cost as well as in terms of product reliability.
Watanabe : Does your future outlook involve responding to needs for even lower-pressure detection?
Hatta : I do think the trend is heading in that direction. Our lowest pressure product today is the Prescale 4LW extreme low-pressure type, which can detect pressure at the slightest touch, but we are considering developing even more highly sensitive types, and we ourselves are actively seeking out new low pressure applications and possibilities. We are actually also working to develop and commercialize products for visualizing things aside from pressure that are invisible to the eye, including heat and UV light.
Watanabe : You also have film that can visualize heat and UV light?
Hatta : Yes. For heat, we have Thermoscale. This is used to check heat uniformity in heat sealers for food packaging, and to ensure uniform heat distribution in heated fusion rollers for printers. This single sheet of film is coated with capsules with a material whose transparency changes in reaction to two types of heat, and with a color-forming layer. Capsules with a blue color-forming agent produce higher transparency at low temperatures, while capsules with a red color-forming agent produce greater transparency at high temperatures. This allows for a range of detection between 150-200 degrees, with lower temperatures appearing blue and higher temperatures appearing in the purple to red spectrum. Why don’t you test it for yourself using this heat sealer?
Yoshinari : Wow, that’s amazing. The color comes out beautifully!
Hatta : Next, we’ll look at UVSCALE, for UV light. This is utilized in checking production processes, including the use of UV light to harden resins and for disinfecting. For example, using this film, you can check every surface on the inside of a beverage package. A tool called an illuminometer can also be used to measure UV light, but it only provides measurement for a single point. In food safety, we believe uniform light distribution is important. Try it with this UV light.
Watanabe : Film is ideal in terms of looking at an entire surface, isn’t it!
Yoshinari : Wow, it turned blue! This makes it easy to see variations in how the light hits. Have you also made these kinds of film products available in overseas?
Hatta : Yes, they’re available worldwide. For example, we’ve recently seen an increased demand for Prescale for industrial applications in China and Southeast Asia.
Watanabe : Does it have potential outside of industry? I was involved in robotics, so for example I wondered if it could be used to measure how a robotic vacuum cleaner runs into walls. Other ideas might include art, educational products, making fish prints without using ink, taking a baby’s handprints, and so on!
Hatta : Prescale is actually being applied in verifying the safety of robot-human contact, to check contact pressure. Health applications are another area. By visualizing pressure produced by the human body—for example, sitting posture, sleeping posture, foot impressions when standing, and so on—it is used in product development in the nursing care and medical fields.
Watanabe : What about fluid pressure from gases or liquids? Is it possible this technology could eventually be used to check the internal uniformity of artificial organs or blood vessels?
Hatta : We’ve actually had inquiries from university researchers studying fluids, asking if we can do just that. Naturally, we cooperate with such requests, and closer to home, we also assist with hands-on science classes for children and so on. Changes in color are very easy for children to understand.
Watanabe : Your technology is sure useful in all kinds of areas!
Hatta : Thank you. This product has been used by many customers of the past 40 years, a truly lengthy track record, and we are confident it can prove useful in an even wider variety of applications going forward. Nevertheless, many people still don’t know about these products, so it would be great if the two of you could go out and spread the word for us.
Watanabe Yoshinari : We’ll do our best! Thank you for your time today!