The FT4 is a powder tester that is used to test the flow properties of powdered materials used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetics and powder coatings industries. It allows the characterisation of automated bulk, shear and dynamic property measurement in one instrument as well as allowing the study of how particle size distribution affects the powder's flowability. The characteristics of a powder can have important implications in how they are transported along a production line and in the pressing of the powder into tablet form. Any changes from batch to batch could indicate an incomplete drying step or lead to too much active ingredient (or too little) being added to the pills. "Since we introduced the first powder rheometer in 1999, Freeman Technology's pioneering approach has been to work with our clients to increase our understanding of powder behaviour and help resolve processing issues by developing new ways of testing powders," said Reg Freeman, managing director of Freeman Technology. The instrument forces a twisted blade along a helical path through a powder sample to study the forces needed to move the powder. The instrument measures these forces continuously to allow a basic flowability energy measurement in two minutes. This flowability measurement allows manufacturers to evaluate how different powder samples compare in relation to factors such as moisture content, level of aeration and particle size range. This information can help solve powder processing problems from bridging at hopper outlets, unwanted fluidisation and air entrainment, to batch variability as well helping to reduce issues with tabletting, encapsulation and vial filling. "What most excites me is that our clients are recognising that powder characterisation is now viable - that powder processing is being transformed from an art into a science by measurements that are differentiating and highly reproducible. We can provide the instrumentation and the know-how to help them meet these challenges," said Freeman.