What were the company’s origins, and how did it get into metal hardness testing?
Proceq was founded by Antonio Brandestini in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1954. The company originally concentrated on developing and selling special equipment for pre-stressed concrete engineering, but it eventually branched out into areas including metals and paper and wood hardness testing. Gear manufacturers would probably be most interested in the EQUOTIP portable metal hardness tester, which was introduced in 1975. It utilizes the “Leeb rebound principle,” which is named in honor of Dietmar Leeb, who was a scientist at Proceq. And while there were other field testers on the market at the time, they were fairly primitive, and certainly not as accurate and easy to use as the EQUOTIP. Plus they didn’t provide the objectivity of an electronic test reading.
What would our readers find most useful about this piece of equipment?
It’s portability, for one thing, and the fact that you don’t have to section the test piece to get a reading, which you sometimes have to do if you’re using a benchtop tester. And that’s really the beauty of the EQUOTIP — instead of having to carry the part to the tester, you carry the tester to the part. It’s battery operated, and all you have to do is place it against the test piece and you get a three-digit LCD reading. There’s no confusion, and the value can easily be converted into whatever is required, whether that be Rockwell, Brinell, Vickers, or Shore. So the big benefit is that if you’re working with large pieces, you don’t have to carry them to the benchtop unit, and you’re not destroying the part to accomplish the test.
Seems like that would be ideal for testing a wide variety of materials.
It is, and the success of the EQUOTIP is really what allowed us to get into paper and wood hardness testing. It’s actually a pretty interesting story. Whenever you wind a big roll of paper, like the industrial rolls that are six feet in diameter, you get uneven tension within that roll, and that can cause problems when you begin to process it into whatever the end product will be. So what the workers in that area would do was take a stick and tap the roll, and they learned to tell by the sound it made and by how far back it bounced whether there was uneven tension in a certain section.
Well, somewhere along the way someone started to use our concrete hammers to do this, and when we found out about it the engineers decided to take the Leeb rebound principle used in the EQUOTIP and apply it to new models designed specifically for paper, films, foils, and wood. So we began by developing equipment for cement processing and other construction-based activities back in the fifties, then we got into metals testing in the seventies, soon followed by the paper and wood hardness testing equipment. But we also offer a wide variety of other testing instrumentation, including corrosion detectors and rebar locators, as well as software for computer integration and documentation.
SHow is Proceq structured, from a geographic standpoint?
The company’s headquarters, Proceq Europe, are still located in Zurich, and Proceq Asia is based in Singapore. Proceq USA was established in 2001, and we’re based in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. We wanted to open this branch as proof of our commitment to our customers in North America, including those involved in the gearing industry. When they’re testing for hardness in their metal products, what’s important is accuracy, reliability, repeatability, and durability, and the EQUOTIP combines all of that along with ease of use. Within just a few minutes just about anybody will be able to get a good hardness test on their metal gears.