Sharbari Banerjee’s picture

By: Sharbari Banerjee

A material’s internal structure or microstructure is defined as one that is viewed with either a metallurgical microscope at magnifications in the range of 25X up to 1000X or a scanning electron microscope (SEM) at higher magnifications. Features observed in microstructures include phases and precipitates in processed materials, dendritic structures in cast alloys, heat-affected zones in welds, layer thicknesses in coated materials, and corrosion modes and depths in affected parts.

Microstructural examination yields valuable information on the mechanical and thermal treatments performed on the material and is important in characterizing materials for quality purposes. We can say that the microstructure of a material acts as a record of its process history.  Because many material properties such as tensile strength and ductility are influenced by process history, microstructures can be used to estimate such properties. As such, microstructural analysis is an important screening tool in the research and development of new materials. Failure analysis investigations rely on microstructures to determine failure origins and property changes in the material while in service.

Barbara A. Cleary’s picture

By: Barbara A. Cleary

A young man in PQ Systems' hometown survived a dramatic auto accident last summer in which police-captured video footage of his spectacular, airborne vehicle was broadcast throughout the nation. That was just the beginning of his problems, for during his hospitalization, his medical records were apparently accessed by unauthorized hospital personnel and leaked to those outside the hospital.

A recent dramatic case of health-care data breach occurred when gamers who were seeking bandwidth to play a video game accessed a server storing protected information on 230,000 patients at Seacoast Radiology in Rochester, New Hampshire.

News reports bring frequent stories about leaks that can cause not only embarrassment, but also legal action or threats to physical well-being.

Bob Cramblitt’s picture

By: Bob Cramblitt

The term “a measure of confidence” has always been considered a nebulous thing. But it becomes very real when applied to body armor testing at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Test Center (ATC) in Maryland. Using a FaroArm Quantum scanner and Geomagic Qualify 3-D inspection software, the Army has decreased the uncertainty of its body-armor test results by as much as tenfold over its former caliper-based process. That translates directly into confidence, according to Craig Miser, chief of the Applied Science Test Division.

“Our accuracy is significantly better now,” says Miser. “We have taken human decision out of the process. Our current process has removed sources of uncertainty and is now defendable and repeatable.”

Accuracy is no small matter when you are dealing with products that are used to protect U.S. soldiers facing armed attacks. It’s also critical to ensuring that customers are getting the maximum benefits out of testing.

“We need to make certain vendors have the best test results to ensure success,” says Miser. “But most important, we want to save the lives of our troops in the battlefield.”

Sam Pfeifle’s picture

By: Sam Pfeifle

One of the topics that drew the most interest at the recently completed SPAR Europe conference, held at the RAI Conference Center in Amsterdam, was that of mobile scanning and mapping. What kind of accuracy can you expect? How fast can you drive? What’s the business case for collecting so much data?

In fact, keynote speaker Erik Siemer, general manager of M3DM, sparked discussion right off the bat with his presentation, which focused on the radical way mobile scanning can change the traditional surveying model. Now, he said, “we can do the same work that we used to do,” meaning traditional transportation-based survey work, “but there’s no work on the road. Even the control points were banned.” There’s no longer a reason to get out of the car at all.

Showing some of the results of M3DM’s scanning, Siemer noted, “you can even see the grooves in the asphalt.”

Nikon Metrology Inc.’s picture

By: Nikon Metrology Inc.

Because damage inflicted on aircraft can affect structural integrity and radar signature, specific aircraft types are inspected to triage damage and define repair actions. To radically improve current manual damage-identification practices, metrology specialists from Maryland-based SURVICE Engineering are integrating Metris iGPS, a noncontact, large-scale metrology solution, as the core of a turnkey damage-inspection solution. Metris iGPS quickly and accurately acquires locations and characteristics of aircraft damage. The spatial coordinates of visual damage are instantly tracked and marked on a digital 3-D aircraft model, simultaneously stepping up process accuracy and efficiency.

Digital Surveys Ltd.’s picture

By: Digital Surveys Ltd.

Building information modelling (BIM) is one of the most fundamental changes to affect the global construction industry. The growing worldwide adoption and implementation of this technology allows for powerful data-based modeling, visualisation, analysis and simulation capabilities that are revolutionizing all aspects of the construction process.

The leading software fuelling this growth is Autodesk Revit. Purpose-built for BIM, Autodesk Revit Architecture helps architects and designers capture and analyze early concepts, and then better maintain designs through documentation and construction.

The current perception has been that BIM can only really be applied to new-build projects. However, as a result of the economic downturn, these projects are few and far between. In their place retrofits on existing sites have become a popular, albeit unavoidable, alternative.

This has created a demand to model existing buildings in Revit and overcome the inherent problems associated when modeling complex, aging buildings and structures.

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence’s picture

By: Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence

The race is on for who will manufacture 1,000 mirrors for the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Cranfield University in the United Kingdom has begun work on producing seven of the mirror segments for “the world’s biggest eye on the sky” with the aid of high-accuracy measurement systems from Hexagon Metrology. The current production is for prototype mirror segments. Once these are signed off, Cranfield University, as part of an as-yet-unnamed UK production company, will be able to bid for the manufacturing of more segments.

Built by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) the E-ELT, a ground-based telescope, will be 42 m in diameter and made up of 1,000 hexagonal mirror segments, each 1.5 m (4.9 ft) wide and just 5 cm (1.9 in.) thick. The E-ELT is four to five times larger and will gather 15 times more light than the largest optical telescopes operating today.

Jacques Hoffmann’s picture

By: Jacques Hoffmann

In parts one and two of this ongoing primer on leak testing, we discussed pressure-decay testing and differential pressure-decay testing, respectively. Although those leak-testing methods remain the most widely used, it is often because they are assumed to be the least expensive leak-testing method. To recap: Pressure-decay transducers for leak testing are the least expensive leak-testing sensor technology, often making pressure-decay methods the least expensive route for a given accuracy. However, pressure-decay methods are the slowest methods for leak detection.

The alternative to pressure-decay test methods are leak-testing systems using mass-flow sensors, which can provide fast and accurate testing over a much wider range of leak/volume ratios and testing conditions at about the same cost as differential pressure systems.

Gregory K. McMillan’s picture

By: Gregory K. McMillan

Temperature is one of the four most common types of process loops. While the other common loops—flow, level, and pressure—occur more often, temperature loops are generally more difficult and important. It is the single most frequently stated type of loop of interest to users, and the concern for better control extends to the widest variety of industries.


Temperature is a critical condition for reaction, fermentation, combustion, drying, calcination, crystallization, extrusion, or degradation rate, and is also an inference of a column tray concentration in the process industries.

Tight temperature control translates to lower defects and greater yields during seeding, crystal pulling, and rapid thermal processing of silicon wafers for the semiconductor industry.

By: Justin Roff-Marsh

The emergence of cargo cults on some Pacific Islands after World War II is an amusing and oft-repeated story.

The relatively simple lifestyles of these islanders were interrupted by Japanese aircraft dropping large supplies of clothing, medicine, canned food, and tents to support the Japanese war effort. Some of these supplies were shared with islanders in exchange for their assistance.

After the war, when planes and their valuable cargoes disappeared, some islanders took to imitating the “rituals” they’d observed the Japanese performing. They carved headphones from wood and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. And they waved landing signals while standing on abandoned runways.

I’ve noticed the emergence of a similar cargo-cult behavior in organizations in recent years, particularly those that sell major products and services.

Sales departments have observed a rapid evolution in the performance of their organizations’ operations departments. They’ve seen outputs increase by orders of magnitude. And they’ve seen quality and on-time performance improve by similar degrees.

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