Recommended Tools and Devices for Web Handlers

Note: TJWA Inc. does not represent or sell any of these products, unless noted. 

Diameter Measuring Tapes

pi tape

Pi Tapes ™

Check roller diameter and diameter variations to 30 microns or 1 mil.

Pi Tapes are used to measure wear of rubber roller covers, diameter ratio of speed-ratio controlled rollers, and roller-to-roller parallelism as an alternative to a tramming stick.

The ‘easy to read’ product is highly recommend and worth the slightly higher price. 

Vimeo on using outside diameter tape (metric)

Vimeo on using outside diameter tape (American)

How to read a Pi Tape ™.

Precision Levels

starrett 98 level

Precision levels are required tool for aligning rollers and framework. Look for a level with several key features:

  • V-groove bottom for sitting squarely on cylinders.
  • Side level to indicate level is plumb atop roller.
  • Calibrated graduations to read in 0.5mm/m or 5 mils/ft

The most popular level in US is Starrett #98 Machinist Level, usually 12-inch length. They do make a more precise level, 199Z Master Precision Level.

starrett 98 level english metric

A more compact alternative is the precision levels from EDA.

eda precision level

Tramming Stick

tramming stick

A tramming stick is a useful tool for checking roller-to-roller parallelism. Strangely not readily available from any supplier, most tramming sticks are custom-made. Also called a wiki-stick, named for its quickness, a tramming stick is comprised of:

  • An extending shaft (often a tripod leg)
  • A reference roller end, usually an angle iron modified to hold the tripod leg perpendicular to the reference roller
  • A dial indicator, measuring down to 25 micron increments over a 25mm range (or 1 mil over 1 inch)
nedo measuring stick

The Nedo measuring stick is a compact and convenient tool similar to a tramming stick, measuring long lengths to small increments. One model measures down to 1 mm over a 0.5 to 2m range ( 40mil over a 20-80 inch range),

Durometer Rubber Hardness Tester


The Durometer is the international standard for the hardness measurement of rubber, plastic, and other non-metallic materials. Durometers are described in the American Society for Testing and Material specification ASTM D2240. The measurement is neither metric or American units, instead reads in units proportional to the penetration of a conic, spring-loaded probe where less penetration is considered ‘harder’ and scores a higher Shore value.

durometer principle

Shore A Durometer is used for most rubber covered rollers in web handling applications. Shore A Durometer measurements use a lower spring value and truncated cone probe. Typical Shore A values range from 20 (elastic band), 40 (pencil eraser), 70 (automobile tire),  to 90+ (shopping cart wheel).

Pusey and Jones Plastometer

pusey and jones plastometer

The Pusey & Jones (P&J) hardness tester rates hardness based on the depth of indentation (in hundredths of a millimetre) of a 3.175 mm (0.1250 in.) diameter steel ball under a vertical force of 9.8 N (2.2 lbf). This value, read after 60 seconds of load, is opposite of Durometer with higher values indicating more indentation and softer rubber. A P&J of zero is the hardest rating, indicating zero indentation. P&J rating may be used to compare the indentation resistance of rubber and rubber-like materials, including paper rollers with a minimum thickness of 13 mm (0.5 in). P&J is based on ISO 7267 and ASTM D531-15.

pusey and jones antique plastometer

Above, P&J Plastometer from 1915.

Handheld Force Gauge

handheld force gauge

A handheld force gauges are a tool any web handler should have. Forces are important in web processes (e.g., tension, nip forces), but many are not measured or directly controlled. A force gauge is vital to calibrate these mysteries. There are many levels of sophistication to force gauges, going from simple fish-weighing scales (see below), to mechanical push-pull gauges, to electronic load cells with digital output and recording. Look for a force gauge with a 25-50 kgf (50-100 lbs) range if you intend to use it by hand. Larger force gauges are useful for higher load measurement inline with a rope or cable (i.e., when not held by hand).

force gauge sideways
walmart fish weighing scale

Nipping Rollers Footprint and Pressure Measurement

Footprint measurements quantify differential indentation of rubber rollers, showing changes in contact at a single crossweb (CD) position or the profile from several CD measurements.

  • Simple devices similar to carbon paper can ‘record’ the contact length of nipping rollers.

  • Pressure sensing papers or films create a full-width, continuous, analog map of footprint length vs CD position.

  • Digital footprint measurement uses thin electronic sensors in a segmented array to measure local footprint length and changes in with load.

Footprint by Tape or Post-It® Notes

tape bubble nip meas

These are two quick, easy, and incredibly inexpensive methods to measure nip footprint length and CD variations. Like most nip footprint measurement, these are static, single condition measurements (i.e., the nip opens and closes, but does NOT rotate).

Using tape, lightly place strips of tape down on the open nip roller, intentionally leaving bubbles in the tape-roller contact area. This works best with tape on a chrome roller. After applying the tape, close the nip to the desired setting, then open it and measure the MD distance that the bubbles are ironed out in the contact zone.

Using sticky notes (such as 3M Post-It® notes), first, close the nip at the desired settings, then insert the sticky notes in from either side of the nip footprint as far as they will go, one note from either side (upstream and downstream) and tack them down to the roller. Next, open the nip and measure the MD length of the gap between opposing the sticky note pairs.

post it note insert nip meas
post it nip measurement open

Footprint Pressure-Sensing Webs

Listed below are three sources for nip impression kits/paper. These systems are similar to carbon paper. One roll contains a paper coated with the ‘donor’ material and the other roll of paper is an engineered ‘receiver’ paper. The donor material is similar to blue waxy coating. The two layers are inserted in a pressure point, such as between two nipping rollers, and squeezed. The blue waxy coating transfers to the donor paper where there is sufficient pressure and shows some gradient of pressure with darker blue transfer indicating higher pressure contact. Where tape and sticky notes are strictly used in open-close stationary nips, nip impression paper can also be fed through a rotating nip (usually at slow speeds) to measure pressure variations vs nip MD position.

Three suppliers are listed below. The Valmet product has been previously sold as Beloit and Metso paper. You can sometimes find old stock of this product on eBay and similar sites.

Passaic Rubber Co.
Nip Impression Paper

passaic nip impression kit box
passaic nip impression kit open box2

Valmet Nip Impression Kit

valmet nip impression kit

KD II GmbH & Co. KG
Nip Impression Paper

kd nip impression paper

Fuji Pre-Scale Film

Similar to the footprint pressure-sensing webs, Fuji Prescale Film is an engineered donor-receiver pressure-sensitive two-sheet system. One roll is the donor paper with a unique coating of dye encapsulated inside microscopic glass beads. The other roll of paper is an engineered ‘receiver’ paper. Based on the glass bead size, Prescale film is available from “ultra extreme low” to “super high” each designed to measure over pressure over a specific range of pressures. Prescale film can be used for simple open-close footprint length measurement or for rotating MD pressure contour mapping. Each pressure range of PreScale film includes a color chart of light to dark pink color density vs pressure. Software and scanners are also available to translate the pink density variations into pressure units.

Tekscan and Sensor Products are the two major US-based distributors of Fuji Prescale film (SPI renames it PressureX).

fuji prescale two rolls

Color Density vs Pressure

fuji prescale color vs pressure

Mapping Laminator Pressure

fuji prescale in laminator

Footprint vs MD Pressure Mapping

fuji prescale footprint vs rolling profile


digi nip2 two sensors smartphone case

Digi-Nip2 from Tablet Measure offers dual sensors systems to measure nip footprint lengths and is specifically marketed to the central impression press application. Footprint measurement is based on the number of discrete MD spaced circuits of pressure-conductive ink closed in the contact zone in a non-rotating closed nip. The Digi-Nip2 connects the battery-operated sensors to a smartphone app via Bluetooth.

digi nip2 two sensors in nip

Nip Control Footprint or Pressure Measurement

nip control footprint

Nip Check Footprint Sensor and Calibration Block

nip control footprint calibration

Nip Control, from Sweden, offers two handheld nip sensors systems to measure footprint or maximum pressure. Footprint measurement is based on the number of discrete MD spaced circuits of pressure-conductive ink closed in the contact zone in a non-rotating closed nip.  The footprint system includes a footprint calibration clamp. Pressure measurement is based on a calibration of the pressure-conductive ink and includes a spring-loaded calibration clamp of 400 N/cm2 (580 psi). The pressure sensor range is listed as 15-999 N/cm2 (20-1400 psi). The pressure sensor can measure a static closed nip or the maximum pressure found by slowly rolling the sensor through the nip zone.

nip control pressure

Nip Check Pressure Sensor and Calibration Clamp

nip control pressure calibration

Note: TJWA Inc. has worked with Nip Control on a few US sales. 


tekscan triple handle nip

Tekscan I-Scan Sensor and Display

tekscan laptop mapping

Tekscan systems measure the pressure between two surfaces, utilizing a thin and flexible sensor and have repeatedly proven useful in measuring nipping roller variations. The laminated sensors estimate pressure from the calibrated resistance changes of a thin conductive ink. There are many pre-designed sensor shapes, some especially useful for nip pressure measurement. Most measurements are non-rotating, closed nip measurements of footprint pressure contour vs MD and CD. Some proof-of-concept trials used the Tekscan Versatek to collect internal roll pressures during the winding and unwinding process. Beyond many standard sensors, custom sensors can be created for different geometries and pressure ranges.

Tekscan I-Scan Sensor, Handle, and Software

tekscan iscan sensor handle laptop

Tekscan Nip Pressure Alignment Tool

tekscan npat

Note: TJWA Inc. and Tekscan have co-presented two conference papers. 

Roll Hardness Measurement

Web bagginess is difficult to measure. Roll hardness profile often strongly correlates to bagginess. Hardness profile, alone or combined with thickness or basis weight profile, is the best predictor of web bagginess for roll suppliers and customers. Ranging from manual ‘billy club’ rebound vs width to highly sophisticated mechatronic units, some form of roll profiling will help understand your web quality and correlate it to runnability.

Backtender’s Stick

backtenders friend billy club

A manual roll hardness measurement that is very similar to a policeman’s billy club or a night man’s self defense stick. The club is swung and struck against the bilge of the wound roll. The operator listens for the pitch of the impact as an assessment of web profile and wound roll tightness. It works well with many stiff materials except foils, but may not work as well for soft materials such as tissue. The method is still in everyday use on almost every paper machine for detecting web profile problems and is still quite useful in web and wound roll diagnostics for other materials. In film, this may be done much more crudely and somewhen less commonly by swinging a tool at hand, such as a screwdriver or utility knife. (David Roisum – AIMCAL Knowledge Base)

Kershaw Roll Density Tester

kershaw rdt16

The Kershaw Roll Density Tester is a fully automatic tester measures force vs displacement of a probe pushing into a roll of paper, tissue, or nonwoven product. Described as roll density, the units suggest a radial spring constant. Both material properties and winding conditions will change this value. For a given product, a higher number implies a more tightly wound roll which may correlate to product performance such as thickness, porosity, and softness.

kershaw rdt2000

Kershaw Graph Force vs Displacement

kewshaw displacement force graph

Proceq Paper Schmidt

paper schmidt

The PaperSchmidt is the first integrated rebound hammer designed specifically for the testing of roll profiles. It features high accuracy and repeatability and delivers instantly all key parameters required for assessing the roll quality. The PaperSchmidt has an extended lifetime to cope with the heavy demands of the paper industry.

paper schmidt on roll

Original Schmidt Hammer Concrete Tester

schmidt hardness tester original

Proceq Equotip 550

proceg equitip 550

The Equotip 550 Leeb U is the successor of the Parotester and perfectly suited for large rolls, thin foils, and films. The Equotip 550 now includes enhanced software, user touchscreen display, custom reporting. This device measure hardness by the Leeb methods, measuring the difference in velocity downward and rebounding impacting mass. The ease of use and immediate histogram displays have made the Parotester and now Equotip 550 a favorite hardness device to measure paper and film rolls in the converting industry. It enables the user to quickly and precisely diagnose roll imperfections, hardness inconsistencies, and uneven winding, thereby preventing problems for printing and converting operations.

proceg equitip 550 on roll

Mill Assist Rho Meter

rhometer in case
rhometer on roll

The Rho-Meter measures the peak force generated by contact of a striker moving at a known velocity against a surface of unknown hardness. During a collision between two objects, both experience a common and opposite force. This reactive force, or “impulse force”, rises from zero to a maximum value then returns to zero. The area under a plotted force-time curve is called “impulse” and is measured in units of pound-seconds.

The original Rho-meter is shown above. The newer product, the Bel-Rho 2000 acoustic hammer is shown below. Both are used for roll hardness average and profile, though their units are not equal.

Bel-Rho 2000 Acoustic Hammer

belrho 2000 on roll

Tapio RPQ

tapio rpq2

Tapio Technologies’ RQP v2.0 measures roll hardness based on a position measurement (instead of the acceleration measurement used in the original RQP). Hitting velocity and the shape of the hammer’s tip can be selected to suit each customer’s preferences. The goal is to mimimize the possible damage inflicted to the tested material (paper, plastic rolls or aluminum foil rolls) and to provide accurate measurements. The RPQ2 data can be stored to an on-unit SD card or shared to a PC wirelessly using Bluetooth or wired with the USB cable.

tapio rpq2 on roll


aca roq

The ACA RoQ (Roll Quality) hardness tester combines many desirable features in a single unit, including touchscreen display, position sensing wheels, too fast/slow scanning rate feedback, high frequency and gentle impact, bar code scanner, on-device graphical display and averaging, compact and light weight. For high volume hardness profile testing, this is an excellent choice.

aca roq on roll