Materials Engineering, Inc.
47W605 I.C. Trail
Virgil, IL 60151
Of Materials Interest1995 Fall
1995 Marks Our 10th Anniversary
What Have You Been Doing in 1995?
Acquisition of Samples for SEM/EDS Contamination Analysis
Product Liability Corner
Materials Engineering Involved in Local ASM Chapter

1995 Marks Our 10th Anniversary
Materials Engineering, Inc., was established in 1985 by Mr. Ralph C. Daehn. The firm was originally named Midwest Materials and Engineering, Inc. Mr. Daehn brought with him over thirty years of engineering experience from companies such as United States Can Company, Packer Engineering Associates, Cummins Engine and Danly Machine Company.
The desire to have a working environment removed from the traffic and congestion of the city has always been important to the engineering staff at MEi. In 1985, MEi occupied the loft office of a renovated barn on Stearns Road in Bartlett, Illinois. MEi was very successful from the onset, and the list of satisfied industrial and legal clients quickly grew. The laboratory was expanded and equipment, including a scanning electron microscope, was purchased. As you may well know, a scanning electron microscope needs a stable foundation to prevent vibrations from interfering with image quality, especially at very high magnification. This prompted the move to a larger location in the city of Elgin.
Continued growth once again led to the need for additional equipment, staff and space. This was especially true as MEi became more involved in specialized testing of products such as hand tools, power tools, torches, fastening equipment, construction equipment, pipe fittings, valves, ladders, appliances, firearms and aerosol cans to demonstrate product safety or recreate failure modes.
From 1990 to 1994, Materials Engineering, inc., conducted Phase I and Phase II of an SBIR project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project combined laser welding technology and mechanical design principles to create an aerosol can which is capable of withstanding higher pressure, fails in a graceful mode and is therefore safer than cans currently in use. Details of this effort will be discussed in a future newsletter.
In August of 1992, Materials Engineering, Inc., relocated again, moving to its present location in Virgil, Illinois. Our location is consistent with our desire to work in a relaxed rural location. Virgil is a town of about 300 people, located on the far western edge of Kane County, midway between St. Charles and Sycamore/DeKalb. Materials Engineering occupies a converted agricultural building, which we share with the Virgil Post Office. Our three story gray building is the tallest structure and can easily be seen from Route 64.
At the end of 1994, Ralph Daehn sold the business to Bill Durako. Bill brings with him a broad range of experience in materials and processes, including electronics, wear, and advanced materials, gained from years at Sundstrand Aerospace and the commercial heat treating industry.
Ralph continues to be involved in consulting, primarily in litigation matters, as R.C. Daehn and Associates, and is an associate of Materials Engineering, offering technical counsel in support of various projects.

What Have You Been Doing in 1995?
The engineers at MEi have extensive experience in working with wide variety of materials, processes and products. As a curiosity, we went through our project files and came up with a list of some of the products and applications we have been involved with this year. Our involvement ranges from quality control functions, processing problems, failure analysis and design support.

• Splines
• Bearings
• Journals
• Shafts
• Gears
• Boilers
• Thermocouples
• Cutting Tools
• Springs
• Relief valves
• Fasteners
• Plumbing Fixtures
• Pistons
• Chain
• Driveshafts
• Hoses
• Cable

• Switches
• Contacts
• Contactors
• PWBs
• Semiconductors
• Packages
• Ceramic/metal seals
• Vacuum Tubes
• Thick Film
• Passive Components

Raw Products
• Wiring
• Sheet/Plate
• Stampings
• Die Castings
• Extrusions
• Tubing
• Forgings
• Casting Sand
• Anodic Coatings
• Paint Coatings
• Platings
• Abrasives
• Metal Powders

Some of the Less Routine
• Kitchen Utensils
• Dental Instruments
• Aerosol Cans
• Bathroom Fixtures
• Fire Origin
• Arson Investigations
• Washing Machines
• Smoke Detectors

• Computers
• Modems
• Automotive Transmissions
• Automotive Engines
• Race Cars
• Agricultural Tools
• Building Structures
• Pneumatic Systems
• Chemical Storage
• Automotive Bodies
• Diesel Engines
• Single Stroke Engines
• Truck and Semi Trailer
• Mining Equipment
• Heat Exchangers
• Pumps
• Household Appliances
• Food Processing
• Hydraulic Systems
• Medical Incubators
• Elevator Equipment
• Escalator Equipment
• Food Processing
• Railroad Cars
• Plumbing and Gas Lines
• CNC Equipment
• Air Compressors
• Firearms
• Commercial Aircraft
• Private Aircraft

We started to list the various materials, coatings and processes we have worked on this year, but the list quickly became too long. As you can see, it has been an interesting year for us so far. Let us bring this level of experience to solving your materials and processing problems.

Acquisition of Samples for SEM/EDS Contamination Analysis
One of the primary services we provide our customers is analysis of contamination samples. These are of many types (corrosion products, embedded particles, sludges, surface stains/discoloration, residues, powders) and sizes (ranging from micron sized particles on electronic contacts to bulk samples of surface debris). Once identified, the source of contamination can be traced down and the problem eliminated.
Our experience shows that our success in identifying the contamination is often linked to the method used to gather the sample. If you do a good job, then we are almost always successful in identifying the contamination. However, if problems occur in the gathering, handling, storing or shipping of the sample, it can impede our ability to perform accurate analysis and generate meaningful results.
Some basic guidelines can be followed:
1. Gathering the Proper Sample
You can either remove the contamination from the component or send the entire component. If the contamination sample is small, it usually makes sense to send the component, rather than attempt to isolate the contamination. If you have a whole batch of parts which are contaminated, send several just in case something happens to one. Be sure you gather a sufficient amount of material; we can analyze very small particles, but more is usually better.
Be sure the sample is representative. If the contamination has multiple appearances, gather multiple samples. If you remove the sample, please take notes as to the exact location, size and shape of the contamination. If you have the capabilities, photographically document the contaminant both prior to and after removal. If corrosion is involved, the condition of the base material beneath the residue may be significant. In this case, you should send the entire component in for analysis.
2. Properly Gathering the Sample
If you elect to remove the contamination, care must be taken not to introduce any foreign materials into the samples. Don't touch the contaminant, for your fingers contain oils, salt and other chemicals which can provide misinformation. Don't use adhesive tapes or cotton swabs to gather the samples. Don't expose the sample to cutting fluids or coolants.
Acquire residues or powder samples by scraping methods whenever possible. Care should also be taken not to disturb the surface when scraping. Be gentle, and scrape with an appropriate, clean tool. If you have to cut the component to gather samples, cut far away from the contaminant to prevent overheating or introduction of debris. If you are concerned about your ability to gather the sample, give us a call and we'll suggest specific tools and methods.
3. Safe Handling
Storing and shipping should be done in sealed containers to prevent contact with any foreign materials during handling. Be sure to label all samples. For small samples, we recommend disposable petri dishes with a tight fitting lid. They are clear plastic, provide good protection, but allow easy viewing under a stereoscope and are readily labeled. We have a supply of these dishes, so give us a call if you would like us to send you a few.
For large samples, any sealed container, including zip lock bags and Tupperware are satisfactory. If you are afraid that shipping and handling may disturb the sample, give us a call, we are often available to pick up the sample. This may involve extra expense, but it may be well worth it.
4. Provide As Much Information As Possible
The second step in helping us to identify the contaminant is to have knowledge of the conditions under which the sample was formed. These include operating temperature, environment, location, time in use, when the sample was observed, has it ever been found before, is it unique to one product, material, end user, or plant location, and any other information that you feel may be useful.
5. Propose Possible Sources
If tracking down the source of contamination is important, it makes sense to spend some time identifying potential sources. Information on all cleaning and handling procedures, and chemical to which the product is exposed to are all important. This is especially true for corrosion problems, as knowledge of all the chemicals which the component has been in contact with lets us know the possible sources of corrosion. It is always easier to match a contaminant to a known there are only a few potential sources. This will always save time and money.
If you have a candidate for the source of the contaminant, it makes sense to perform analysis of the candidate for comparison purpose. Each will have a fingerprint of elements present, and matching the EDS spectra of an unknown against several knows is perhaps the easiest way to identify the source. This is especially true if the contaminant contains many different chemical elements. Likewise, examining a new, clean, reference or normal sample often provides beneficial information.Many of these are common sense. But if you use common sense and follow these guidelines, we will be able to serve you better. The results will be more reliable, and will be obtained more quickly with less effort, which will lead to faster turnaround and lower cost.
In summary:
Do collect a sample of sufficient size which is truly representative of the problem.
Don't use you fingers, tape, swabs or other items which may contaminate the sample.
Do handle and ship samples in protective sealed containers.
Do provide us with as much information on the application as possible.
Do suggest possible source of the contamination.
Do use common sense.
Don't hesitate to call us if you have any questions.

Product Liability Corner
This past spring, engineers from Materials Engineering, Inc., attended a seminar on legislative changes to the Illinois product liability laws. The seminar was conducted by the legal firm of Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, one of the premier law firms in the state of Illinois.
The Illinois Civil Justice Reform Amendments of 1995 came into effect on March 9, 1995, creating major changes in Illinois Tort Law, especially in the areas of product liability and medical malpractice. These changes are much more sweeping than those being discussed at the federal level, and many believe that the Illinois law will become the model law for many other states. Whether you agree or disagree with the changes, they are now law and will affect the way product liability matters are dealt with in the state of Illinois.
The changes are too many and detailed to be discussed here, but they do cover many subjects, including the need for preliminary expert opinions prior to filing a suit, the adequacy of warnings and the presumption of safety. The law also imposes limitations on punitive and non-economic damages.
By attending seminars such as this, we keep up to date on important issues which affect our business and our customers, allowing us to serve you better in the future. We would like to thank our friends at Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon.

Materials Engineering Involved in Local ASM Chapter
The staff at Materials Engineering has always been involved in technical societies, ranging from ASME, ACerS, SAE, and ASM. The American Society for Metals, now known as ASM International, has long been the largest technical society for Metallurgical and Materials Engineers. This year, Bill Durako is serving as secretary for the Rockford Chapter. In this regard, he works with the 12 member executive committee in a variety of chapter activities. One of the major activities is of course, planning the meetings and arranging speakers.
MEi, along with Charles Kawin Company, will be sponsoring a TV give away as an attendance prize at the meetings. This will be a 27in Magnavox Smart Set. By sponsoring such activities, we hope to encourage members to become more involved in the ASM chapter. We are open to consider sponsoring a similar activity with your technical society, so give us a call. We are also available to give presentations on general subjects such as failure analysis, product liability and materials and processing, or more detailed technical subjects as well.
We encourage all technical personnel to keep actively involved in your local technical societies. They are a good opportunity to have technical conversations in a relaxed social environment.

Next: 1996 Spring Newsletter