Best Instrument, Inc.

History of products:

Skip to technical methods used

Best Instrument, Inc., State College, PA

Jun 2005 - Jun2013

A broad overview of Best Instrument can be seen in my business cards. The personal technical experience and accomplishments required to fuel the evolution of the business can be found in the section below.

Best Business card side 1
Side 1 of the business card at 1 year shows the new emphasis on high performance fittings, pictured on card face. At this time, the flowmeter had been developed, and the new fittings showed promise of solving the calibration issues associated with the fittings which were already commercially available.

Best Business card side 2
Side 2 of the 1 year business card already shows the de-emphasized flowmeter, and a line of HPLC pumps.

It was apparent the flowmeter would require quite a bit of additional work, but it was not dropped completely, merely de-emphasized. Market research had already shown a line of high performance fittings would likely be an immediate 'cash cow'.

Best Business card New
The latest business card (after year 2) shows a new HPLC fitting product, new contact information, and in the background, yours truly. By this time various derivatives of the original fitting were being developed, and four distributors had been signed on.

By this time though (2007), two fatal decisions had unknowingly been made. Additionally, the capitalization required to go into mass production was never achieved, and operations were ceased Q2, 2013. Still, the 8 year accomplishment shows that one persons effort, some automation and ingenuity can produce a modest success.

History of products and overview of manufacturing processes:

Best Instrument, Inc. was incorporated in June 2005 for the purpose of commercializing a high pressure liquid flow meter. The device, referred to as a 'Viscometric flowmeter', in US patent 7,644,632 uses the Hagen-Poisuelle principal.

This is the flowmeter, showing front panel user interface LCD and Keypad) and rear panel (fluid, USB and Ethernet I/O).uFM front and rear panel The product measured instantaneous and average flow rates as well as reporting absolute pressure and temperature. Externally, the device consists of a membrane keypad affixed to a purchased ABS project box available from Hammond Manufacturing. From the rear panel protrude fluid I/O ports which self-purge of air. These ports were manufactured using a home-built CNC mill from PEEK (Poly Ether Ether Keytone).

A view of the internal components of the flowmeter is shown.uFM internal PCBsIn this prototype, the fluid I/O manifolds were manufactured from 316 stainless steel, which was later changed to the PEEK material so a more inert fluid path could be featured. The flow sensing tube is visible under the PBB's. The PCB's contain a 18F452 PIC microcontroller, 24 bit 4 channel serial I/O A/D converter, and various support circuitry described elsewhere. Prototypes and a calibration system were developed in year 1, and the prototypes worked in practice, but the internal fittings of the era were not capable of holding securely at high pressures. Therefore, slippages of the sense tubing would change the pressure drop across the tubing, and 'wreck' the calibration! Development of the flow meter was halted while the problem with the fittings was solved.

Upon advice of Richard Henry, A seminal figure in Liquid Chromatography, Best initially developed and commercialized a fitting based on a design by Ernest Boone and Dr. Henry. Quickly new ideas and products were developed, along with manufacturing techniques so these products could be commercialized.

This link Overview of fittingsopens in a separate window, and shows about one third of the products which were developed from 2006-2013.

What hardware, firmware and software and development tools were used to develop the flowmeter, it's calibration stand, and the optimized production line to manufacture miniature hydraulic fittings?

7 UHPLC fittings
Examples of fittings developed by John Best while at Best Instrument, Inc. The 'Gemini' fittings shown are the subject of US patents 8,006,367 and 8,887,371.
  • Designed and completed all steps of design and development toward commercialization of a new product, a high pressure liquid flowmeter. Wrote and received US patent 7,644,632.
  • Developed and manufactured miniature hydraulic fittings for HPLC systems. Wrote and received US patent 8,006,367, and 8,887,371. Interacted with research customers to understand requirements and envision niche flow-path products to improve system performance.
  • Developed relationships with several global distributors.
  • Used CAD and various machining processes to build prototypes and first articles for testing/evaluation.
  • Coded and manufactured medium and high volume production components for liquid flow meters, high pressure miniature hydraulic fittings, hydraulic manifolds, and machined packaging.
  • Converted CAD drawings to G-Code for machining Set up, operated and maintained CNC machines.
  • Manufactured components from 303 and 316 stainless steel and aluminium Occasionally machined cast iron, delrin, PEEK, brass and other materials to manufacture fixtures and jigs.
  • Built, ran and maintained an anodizing line Designed, built and programmed ATS (Automatic Test System) for calibration of flow meters using PC based VB data acquisition program interacting with Excel.
  • Designed and built various electronics I/O interfaces and PIC microcontroller based automation interfaces Programmed for PIC18F452 and 16F877 in C++.
  • Automated a Schaublin lathe using Mach3 CNC program, including sourcing and/or building all drive components and electronic interfaces.
  • Retro-fitted an EMCO mill-lathe with X-Y-Z CNC control using a Centroid controller.
  • Operated Citizen B12 Swiss style fully automatic precision lathe (with FANUC controller).
  • Skills: Machining, electronics, electro-mechanical design, schematic capture and PCB layout, firmware coding, technical research, writing, sales and general business skills.