Looking at the DMA 02 C density meter from 1967 and a Generation M density meter they do not seem to have much in common. What has been outstanding about our DMAs from the beginning, and is the same today, is the measuring method according to the oscillating U-tube principle. We have been the technological leader worldwide in the field of digital density measurement for many years now. The foundation for this has been many years of work and a dedication to continuous optimization.
The introduction of the DMA 02 C digital density meter at the Achema exhibition in Frankfurt in 1967 caused a sensation. For the first time it was possible to measured the density of a sample digitally – and that with an accuracy of 10-6 g/cm3. The small masterpiece cost around 100,000 Austrian Schillings (approx. 7000 euros today). Much more than a top-class automobile back then. Anton Paar’s background in locksmithery was reflected in this first DMA: Its robustness was unsurpassed. It weighed around 35 kilograms.
All along this has been true for density meters from Anton Paar: On the one hand we wanted to build the most accurate and best density meter in the world, on the other hand we also wanted to enable small companies to enjoy the benefits of digital density measurement. So it was that the launch of DMA 02 C was followed by the launch of the lighter and cheaper DMA 10. Both instruments only displayed the duration of the oscillation period, the density had to be calculated by hand. It wasn’t possible to control the sample temperature in the instrument.
From oscillation period to density
The subsequent years – from 1973 to 1988 – were shaped by the rapid further development of DMA. The next important optimization step came with DMA 55. With DMA 55 it was possible to set the oscillator constants. This meant that the instrument could display the density so the user did not have to calculate it manually. In DMA 46 there was also a built-in Peltier thermostat so the sample temperature could be controlled.
In 1980 Anton Paar took a large step towards producing a small, cheap and easy to operate density meter: this was the first version of DMA 35. As the electronics back then were not as powerful as those today, there were many DMA 35 versions at the beginning. There was a version for determining the specific gravity at 20 °C, a version for specific gravity at 4 °C, an Ex version for use in hazardous environments, etc.
Closer to the customer: the first microcontroller
A microcontroller was implemented into DMA 48 and DMA 58 at the end of the 1980s. This could calculate other parameters from the density value, e.g. concentration. This was the time when we began to think about what final result the customer actually needed, as this was not always the density value but a value which could be calculated from the measured density. The controlled temperature range was extended step by step. Whereas DMA 46 (the first DMA with thermostat) covered a range from 15 °C to 40 °C, with DMA 48 the range extended up to 70 °C. Today the range covers up to around 100 °C with standard models and up to 200 °C with special versions.
DMA 38, DMA 4500 and DMA 5000 Classic (from 1997) were very successful further developments.
A new generation
In 2008 there came an important milestone in the further development of the density meter: Generation M with its touchscreen display and integrated Windows® interface set new standards in user-friendliness and was developed within one year. This was possible due to the former MLA (Modular Liquid Analyzer) project. This project team was looking into combining density measurement with alcohol determination within one modular instrument providing highly modern operation. Generation M was the answer.
The new version of Generation M is ready to go and has been officially presented at Achema in June. The measuring principle is the same as before, but the instrument is more robust, more resistant and more user-friendly. This is primarily guaranteed by the much bigger display on the front of the instrument. It is break-proof, quick to respond and increases the usability many times over. With the slogan “Truth feels better” we are consciously positioning ourselves against the frequently very aggressive advertising used by the competition. What our DMA series can do, speaks for itself. We do not need to give utopian measuring ranges or invent features. The truth is the best advertising and this feels good, in fact: Truth feels better.
In collaboration with Max Sommer