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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
to call us if you have any questions.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.