Pittcon 2010 New Product Review

May 01, 2010

Companies Mentioned in This Article
A perennial pre- and post-Pittcon theme is how well the conference is doing. Especially in these days of web-based and other forms of electronic marketing, the concern on everyone's mind is whether large shows such as Pittcon are viable.

Total attendance as of Thursday morning in 2009 was 18,055, with a final attendance figure for 2009 of 19,018. The 2010 attendance was 16,876. These numbers come from the "official" attendance figures posted on the Pittcon web site: http://www.pittcon.org/exhibitor/marketing_attendance.html. A decrease in attendance in Orlando was expected, so this drop-off is not too bad. It will be interesting to see what happens in Atlanta in 2011.

Another aspect of the question is that Pittcon has long become a tradition, for both vendors and conferees. This being the case, companies have a concern, with some justification, that not showing up would put them at a competitive disadvantage. Therefore, I expect that, despite a normal amount of ups and downs, Pittcon will be with us for the foreseeable future. Of course, as the old saying goes, "It's dangerous to make predictions, especially about the future." If the scuttlebutt about this year's decrease was correct, then attendance next year should be up again. If this does happen, then it will be a strong positive harbinger for the future. We'll just have to wait and see.

The trend toward decreasing instrument size is continuing. Not only were handheld instruments being shown for molecular spectroscopy, but there were handheld X-ray instruments and mass spectrometers being shown, too. This came as somewhat of a surprise for your editor, who hasn't really kept track of developments in those technologies but remembers when they required huge power supplies and multi-ton magnets for their operation. On the other hand, there are very strong driving forces for this trend. The need of the police for gathering forensic information on-site, as well as the critical need to identify the proverbial "white powder" at the site of a terrorist attack or natural disaster have all pushed strongly for the development of tools to do those identifications.

We indicate, in our listings, whether a given instrument is for the laboratory (that is, a fixed location), portable, or field deployable. We also include, for several instruments, especially the ones that are portable or transportable, their size and weight. This can provide the reader with a more precise idea of just how portable a given unit is.

A technology present that wasn't represented at all last year (at least in the review, which meant I didn't find any) was NMR, although only one company included information about this analytical method.

In a review like this, the organization is important. I organized this review according to the wavelength region and type of spectroscopy involved (for example, mid-IR, X-ray, UV–vis, atomic spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and so forth) We tried to arrange it so as to allow the readers to compare instruments from different manufacturers more easily, even though it can sometimes lump together instruments of the "good enough is OK" type, with ultraprecise laboratory designs.

The categories we used in this review to classify the instruments (in alphabetical order) are
Atomic spectroscopy
First responders
Mass spectrometry
X-ray (which includes all shorter-wavelength methods)

Some categories might include products from companies that might otherwise be classified under one of the other categories. These categories are: Accessories, Components, First Responders, Imaging, and Software. For example, a mid-infrared imaging spectrometer might be found under "Mid-Infrared" or under "Imaging." I tried to be consistent, but can't guarantee perfection in this regard. Thus, if a product is not found in an expected category, these others should be checked, since it might be listed there.

Where a company has more than one product of a similar type listed, the products are separated by a boldface "Product name" entry. Otherwise, companies in each category are listed alphabetically, as are the categories themselves.

We also endeavored to give a synopsis of salient features for each product, or at least as much as could be included in limited space. We tried to follow a "features benefit" format, so that not only are the key features of a given instrument described, but also the meaningfulness of those features to the user.

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