CYCOGS® brand, VCA TFA Vacuum Compression Apparatus, Thin Film Analyzer material technology testing platform

contain numerous sensors, and additional sensors can be embedded.  Such additional sensors may include optical moisture content, moir'e optical pattern analyzers and other sensors that may be needed.

VCA TFA Photo.

General Description 

The VCA TFA is an advanced paper test instrument controlling relative humidity for testing and evaluating mechanical properties of planar type materials. 
Such materials include paper, plastics, corrugated, composites, textiles, elastomers, etc.  The load frame (load control) exerts mechanical force and measures the resulting stress.  Extensometers provide strain data allowing data analysis of yield, energy, modulus and Poisson's ratio. 
Sample measurements include the loads, and the X, Y, and Z deflections. 

VCA TFA Photo of the lid.

Dimensional stability test setup on paper with three extensometers. 


A paper test lab certifying their product.
A research organization testing recycled material properties.
A packaging company simulating corrugated box performance.
An electronics company testing for moisture effects.
A fabric manufacturer testing moisture related strengths.
A publisher solving ink registry problems caused by dimensional changes during printing.
An adhesive label manufacturer analyzing humidity effects on glued paper.

Test Types 

The tests can be conducted under various environmental conditions. 
Relative humidity profiles include steady state, steady state plus steps, square wave with ramp control (trapezoid), sine wave, saw-tooth (triangle) wave, swept frequency waves. 
Custom profiles like actual recorded data from a process or warehouse can be used as a control profile. 

The test types include the following:
Load Tensile, compression, creep, stiffness, biaxial  (required biaxial test frame).
Short column (edgewise compressive corrugated fiberboard)  (required short column fixtures).
Dimensional stability (four axis, X, Y, XY and Z).
Moisture migration Curl, air permeability studies.

VCA TFA plastic test Photo.

Load test of plastic sample in tension. 


VCA TFA Photo.

The TFA VCA platform has numerous subsystems.  The power is distributed through a high current sub-panel located in the utility cart.  The test unit, in addition, contains an uninterruptible power supply, computer and electronics.  Numerous sensors allow the real world to interface with the computer.  The computer is a current generation running Microsoft® Windows®.  The analog interface electronics uses 16-bit precision. 

System Software: 

The Microsoft® Windows® based HMI (Human Machine Interface) software controls the TFA.  Concurrent multithreaded processes ensure a high level of performance and self-monitoring.  The program running on Microsoft® Windows® is custom designed for this machine.  Basic data storage is in the form of an ASCII text comma separated values  (CSV) file that can be read by any software that can read a text file.  The custom software semi-automates sensor calibration.  Data can be played back with a second program using a similar screen for review or demonstrations. 

VCA TFA display Photo.

Other Information: 

The internal load frame uses hydraulic clamps that are pressure adjustable. 
The external load frame (biaxial) uses glue tabs. 
The vacuum system provides sample restraint and air flow. 
Maximum air flow results in minimal restraint. 
The VCA TFA consists of two units.  
The first component is called the Test Unit. 
The second unit is named the Utility Cart. 
The Utility Cart contains heat and noise generating devices like motors, pumps, dehumidifier, etc.
This device can be placed remotely from the Test Unit in the utility cart. 
The two units are connected with umbilical cables and pipes. 
The separation distance between the two components depends on the application and the installation configuration. 

VCA TFA mechanicals Photo.

Key Benefits:

In-plane compression testing.
Precision load system using load control.
Multitude of test types.
Exceptional single pass RH control.
Modern computer control.

Sample Sizes:

Dimensional Stability 14.1cm x 11.7cm (5.55" x 4.6" max).
Standard Load-Based test 3.08cm x 15.3cm (1.21" x 6.02.")
High Load test May require a necked (dog bone) sample, depending on expected load: necked down to 1.50 cm (0.59.")
Minimum Thickness The actual material properties will determine the minimum thickness.
Maximum Thickness 3mm (0.12"), depending on clamp foot design.
Short Column test 5.1cm X 3.2cm (2" x 1.25".) This sample size may vary depending on ultimate load potential, flute type, etc.

VCA TFA load test photo.

VCA TFA Load test setup. 

Load Range:

Internal Load Frame capacity: ±1.3344kN (300 lbf.)
External Load Frame (Biaxial) capacity: ±444.8 N (100 lbf.)
Load Control: 16 bits resolution. NOTE: this device's cross head motion uses load control.  Load ramp rates User selected;  computer generated.
Calibration: 444.8 N (100 lbf.) load ring standard.
Option 1: Biaxial test frame and fixture (external load frame).
Option 2: Short column test fixtures.
Option 3: Pass through sample preparation punches.


Precision extensometers are used for motion sensing.
Most load tests: One or two are used.
Dimensional stability test: Uses three extensometers.
Typical setups: 25.4mm (1") gage length 10% extensometers.
A/D conversion: 16-bit resolution.
Z direction data: Uses a DVRT sensor.
Option 1: 25.4mm (1") gage extender for 5% operations.
Option 2: one to two mm (micron level) Z direction or precision measurements.
Option 3: Optical measurements.

VCA TFA lid Photo.

Test Software:

Option 1: Microsoft® SQL Server® data storage.
Option 2: Internet enabled remote monitoring and email event notification.
Option 3: Robotic specimen loading.

Relative Humidity: 

The standard setup in a 22.8°C (73°F) 50% room will control (depending on proper test setups) 25% to 95% RH (non-condensing). 
A typical accelerated load test may use a 10 minute 30%-90% sinusoid control ramp. 
Faster square wave cycles are possible; however, the system response may not follow the square wave input within the 2% target. 

Relative Humidity:
Option 1: Below 10% operations.
Option 2: Above 95% operations - Condensing water may result in control issues.
Option 3: Optical moisture sensor.

VCA TFA Test Types: 

The environmental tests can be conducted using various environmental conditions. 
Relative humidity profiles include steady state, steady state plus steps, square wave with ramp control (trapezoid). 

Temperature Control: The standard setup exchanges heat to ambient room conditions.
Standard: 22.8°C (73°F); 50% RH.
Option 1: Stabilized to 22.8°C (73°F).
Option 2: User defined temperature setpoint, e.g. 10°C (50°F).

VCA TFA control screen photo.


Power Typically, 240 VAC 3 phase 30A 60Hz.
Water Input (daily) (distilled preferred)  0-20 Liters (0-5.3 gallons).
Waste Water drain (daily) (excess working and dehumidifier drain)  0-11 Liters (0-2.9 gallons).
Auxiliary Inputs Room Condition recording.
Vacuum Pump Exhaust vent Vented Outside preferable.
Utility Cabinet Cooling vent Vented Outside preferable.
Option 1 House Air Pressure (if available, else air compressor required).
Option 2 Network connection.


Wall Placement Requires extra room around the units
Test Unit 1.58m L x 0.914m W x 1.52m H (62"L x 36"W x 60"H)
Utility Cart 1.96m L x 0.84m W x 0.86m H (77"L x 33"W x 34"H)

VCA TFA Photo.

VCA TFA test unit Photo.

The VCA TFA Thin Film Analyzer main test cabinet and Utility Cart Unit. 

VCA TFA Links of Interest:

This is a modest collection of related internet links.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing  (BEP)
USDA Forest Service Forest Products Lab.  (FPL)
Scion Forest Research Institute 
Isthmus Engineering and Manufacturing COOP
University of Maryland  CALCE
Korutest Chalmers DST (Dynamic Stiffness Tester)

Please contact us here at the CYCOGS Company if you encounter additional questions or environmental application needs.

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The CYCOGS® VCA TFA system projects are under development and offered in advance as a customized manufactured system; Standard models may not yet be available at this time.  As the CYCOGS development effort in core technology and key concepts continues, the CYCOGS® Company reserves the right to progressively change some specifications and data or is not available or suitable for widespread dissemination for all products.  Pre-production information is not fully available for some specific products at this time.  Sensors, customizations and other integrations may result in an increased cost.

System configuration and specifications may change without notice. 

CYCOGS reserves the right to make, from time to time, such departures from the detail specifications as may be required to permit improvements in design of its products.  Components made under military approvals will be in accordance with the approval requirements.  The information included herein is believed to be accurate and reliable.  However, CYCOGS assumes no responsibility for its use;  nor for any infringements of patents or other rights of third parties that may result from its use. 

Liability Disclaimer:

The CYCOGS Company is not liable for the use, installation, performance or fitness of this component or system.  Your purchase properly indicates you fully assume the risk of its proper use and its subsequent installation and end user training and potential liability.  The CYCOGS Company patented intellectual property is strictly enforced and carefully protected.  The CYCOGS Company warranties the systems it sells from component defects or hardware failure for the period of one year after completing the purchase.

Please note:

The CYCOGS VCA TFA, systems are not waterproof or properly made for extended outside use or in wet or condensation prone environments.  In addition, the VCA TFA systems should not be operated in an excessively dusty or combustible or other hazardous environments.  Although the VCA TFA systems movements may result in unexpected movements, personal and property damage may occur if used in an unsafe fashion or unsuitable environment.  Proper end-user design, operation, safeguarding, programming and training, including other safe operation tasks and safety procedures are recommended and remains the end-user’s responsibility.  OEM manufacturers and other purchasers of CYCOGS products and systems, as the purchaser, assumes responsibility and potential liability for safe implementation and use of these CYCOGS products and systems.

Please specify your CYCOGS® brand, VCA TFA Vacuum Compression Apparatus, Thin Film Analyzer design requirements for quotes and purchase.  Advanced orders may be accepted, please contact CYCOGS sales for more information.

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The CYCOGS® Company is a privately owned, 100% American company and is based in the state of Wisconsin.
The CYCOGS OEM engineered products and systems are carefully designed, made, built and assembled in the state of Wisconsin, USA.
The CYCOGS® Company strives to intentionally use American domestic components whenever possible.  Some of the key components may be sourced from the only available manufacturer, which may be owned, created or delivered from other countries.

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