BMW April 2022

When it comes to technical measuring instruments, Elcometer from the UK have a long history of supplying the very latest technology to power the surface coatings industry, while most body shops invariably only use a film test guage. Every now and again there are other key industrial aviation ship building and OEM companies, who live and die on these critical dry film thickness gauges.

Graham Duk manages the Elcometer brand in South Africa for these quality control instruments says that as South Africa expands on a continual basis the need to upskill new engineers and coating industry personnel is gaining ground. There is a trend to meet critical specification demands which has to be maintained constantly. The company hold these special trade training sessions in Gauteng, Western Cape and  KZN with customer support from the UK store.

Steve Pollard and Craig Woodhouse went through the entire set- up and management of the new digital gauges. The 311 model is the easiest to use and as a metre delivers the fastest ever measurement of dry film build-up. It has a large and easy to read display and gives values in both microns and millimetres. It is dust and water proof so it can be used to measure in both wet and dry conditions.

Measurements can be taken to a computer or laptop and downloaded by bluetooth for seamless reporting.  Graham says the probe allows measurements in a vertical and horizontal position on all surfaces from aluminum to high strength steel, instantly switching to accommodate those panel extensions in use. The 311 gauge carries international approval from both VW and Mercedes-Benz to name a few.

Measuring dry film thickness

Dry film thickness is probably the most critical measurement in the coatings industry. It provides vital information as to the expected life of the substrate, the product’s fitness for purpose, its appearance and ensures compliance with a host of International Standards.

In 1947, Elcometer launched one of the world’s first non-destructive coating thickness gauges, the Elcometer 101.

For more than six decades, the design and production qualities of this rugged and reliable instrument have been the watchwords for all of their products and these philosophies are still held today.

Elcometer has a comprehensive range of Dry Film Thickness gauges to meet all of your coating inspection requirements including:

*Electronic (Type 11): the most widely used as it is generally the most accurate and can be used to measure the coating on almost any substrate, whether ferrous or non-ferrous

*Mechanical (Type 1): still widely used, particularly in areas where no electrical instruments are permitted or high temperatures prevail

*Destructive: used primarily in multi-coat procedures and non-metallic substrates

*Formal quality systems, such as those described in ISO 9000, require gauges to be properly controlled, logged and in calibration. Increasingly, users are specifying that the readings taken by gauges are traceable to National Standards.

There are three types of coating thickness standards available from Elcometer.

*Calibration Foils – supplied individually or in sets. These precision foils (or ‘shims’) accurately measured to approximately 1% offer you the ideal method for adjusting the calibration of your coating thickness guage on your substrate, taking into account your specific substrate material, surface finish and form, to ensure the greatest possible accuracy. Foils are available with or without a calibration certificate traceable to National Standards (UKAS and NIST).

*Coated Standards – mounted in a protective folder, these hard wearing coated ferrous or non-ferrous tiles are ideal for accurately measuring the performance of the coating thickness gauge. Coated standards are accurate to within 2% and are supplied with a calibration certificate.

*Zero Test Plates, in some cases, it may be difficult or impractical to obtain an uncoated substrate. For this reason Elcometer provide a range of zero test plates. These test plates, when used in conjunction with a set of foils, are ideal for accurately measuring the performance of your coating thickness gauge.

If you need more information on the automotive paint gauge range call BAMR who operate from Cape Town on +27 (0)21 683 2100 or visit