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Company | 2013/02/11

Leading the way

In today’s environment of ever increasing regulatory demands, the need for the most flexible and robust linear smoking machine has never been so apparent. The ability to conform to the traditional ISO 3308 smoking while having the options to smoke intense regimes like Health Canada Intensive (HCI) T-115 or Bidi 35/2/15 or cigar or eCigarettes has long been a goal chased by all the smoking machine manufacturers.

With the LX family this goal has finally been achieved, not only can the LX family be configured as a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 15 or 20 port smoke machine, but it does this with full port to port configuration flexibility.  For the first time full conformance to the ISO standards can be achieved when smoking different smoking regimes through the full randomizing of all cigarettes across all smoke ports.  Previously the best that could be achieved was the grouping of five consecutive ports running one regime aside a group of another five consecutive ports running a different regime.
The LX’s ability to configure one smoke port completely differently from the port next to it is a break though that allows the greatest level of smoking flexibility possible.  For the first time on a twenty port LX20, we are able to smoke a single brand under ISO 3308 conditions 35/2/60, HCI 55/2/30, WHO SOP1 55/2/30 and monitor cigarettes simultaneously in full accordance with various standards requirements.  Simultaneous smoking allows a number of potential variables to be removed from the analysis such as different operators, environmental conditions, air flows and calibration variances, all of which previously added to the widening of confidence limits of comparative smoke analysis.
Linear smoking provides a benefit of supporting multiple simultaneous brand smoking the down side is a twenty port linear smoking can be labor intensive to setup and run, with many tasks having to be repeated for each port and each cigarette smoked.  Simplifying the setup and operation processes of smoking was a key focus for the LX design team.  The first task simplified was the leak check process that normally requires twenty individual leak checks to be completed one after another.  The LX simplified this task by integrating a leak tester on every port, allowing all ports to be tested simultaneously, so eliminating 19 repeat manual tests. 
Next was the change from the traditional cotton butt termination to an Infra-Red (IR) butt termination unit (BTU), like those used on rotary smokers.  The goal was to eliminate the need to install the cotton thread for each cigarette, as well as having to adjust the cigarette both front and back to the butt mark and left and right to the cotton.  The introduction of the BTU to linear smoking eliminated much of this adjustment need, so speeding up the initial and intra cigarette setup times.  However in recent months there has been much investigation in to a previously unnoticed phenomena of the mechanical nature of the cotton method, which may be one of the sources of yield differences under the HCI regime.  It appears the time it takes for the cotton to burn through, followed by the time it takes the sprung arm to lift and trigger the micro-switch to change the signal from mechanical to electrical has a significant impact on puff count numbers and therefore yield results when compared to the IR’s faster electronic detection.
The lighting process also received a design updates to simplify the setting of the lighter distance as well as the introduction of an automated lighting option.  Lighter automation allows the user to tell the instrument they are ready to start the smoke run and simply step back from the smoking machine and watch the lighters being applied, the first puff taken, the lighters removed and the hood closed automatically.
But all this simplification means nothing without a reliable robust data collection and storage.  In today’s laboratory environment data integrity is as critical as ever, so the LX’s data collection is housed in either a local or central SQL database with full auditing capabilities. The LX database records are not limited to the traditional; brand, number of cigarettes, puff count and CO values, the LX also offers automatic recoding of leak checking results, airflow values, CO and CO2 calibration values as well as the pre and post weight values of the Cambridge Filter Pad Holder and calculated TPM.  Port volume values can be entered manually by the user ensuring that all related smoke run data is integrated as part of a homogeneous data set for the smoke run.  Data can even be recorded as ‘verified’ through the use of user electronic signatures via password or biometric signing.
The graphical user interface provides not only a familiar windows like environment but also provides a quick access library of machine setups for repeated smoking setups as well as capability for LIMS loading and custom user setups. 
As we all know smoking can be a high maintenance activity, so the LX design has taken into account that at some point its syringes will have to be clean.  Going back to the modular design of the SE01 that houses the glass syringe, for maintenance it can be removed and dismantled using no tools in less than a minute.
But some of the most interesting advances in the LX family have been driven by the need to smoke products other than cigarettes and different regimes from ISO3308.  All LX machines can support human smoking profiles, these profiles can be collected on the CReSS products and uploaded to the smoking machine via the CReSS library of saved profiles.
The LX has also been used to smoke (vaporize) eCigarettes for allow comparable smoke analysis and traditional cigarette smoking as a baseline reference.  Obviously butt termination is not using for eCigarettes, but the LX’s ability to smoke to fixed puff numbers as standard makes it a perfect match.
The LX family has an answer for almost every smoking need today, 1 port R&D smoking, 5 port small laboratory smoking, 5 & 10 Port Side-Stream smoking, routine and Hoffmann 10 – 20 port smoking, CO, CO2 and NOX gas analysis for Bidi, Cigar and eCigaette products.

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