Your Breath, Turn on the Propeller!
and puffing to blow a house down might have worked for the Big,
Bad Wolf, but researchers and engineers at the National
Institute of Standards and Technology, Texas Tech University,
the Department of Energy, and its Oak Ridge National Laboratory
prefer a Hercules C-130 turboprop airplane.
Within the next three months, Texas Air National Guard pilots
will taxi their C-130 aircraft to the edge of a Lubbock, Texas
runway and stop in front of instrument-laden test homes built
on site. Propeller blasts from the planes will subject these buildings
to three sustained wind levels, one comparable to that of a hurricane.
The researchers will make detailed measurements of air flow properties
and the aerodynamic loads on selected points of the buildings
envelopes. Along with these structural performance measures, important
energy performance assessments also will be conducted.
Subsequent data analysis should yield realistic computer models
that can tell homebuilders and manufacturers the actual wind resistance
of different types of residential buildings under any realistic
wind condition. Manufacturers should be able to use the information
to incorporate structural and energy-efficiency improvements into
their building designs.
Turboprops provide a wind source not available in traditional
wind tunnels since existing systems cannot envelop an entire house.
Additionally, the procedure is very cost effective; a comparable
test in a large-enough-sized wind tunnel would cost as much as
Blair, (301) 975-4261
Test Methods to Keep Auto Industry in Top Form
the goal of improved fuel economy, U.S. auto manufacturers are
looking at using lightweight materialshigh-strength steel,
aluminum or fiber-reinforced plasticin auto body parts.
The challenge of using these new materials is understanding their
behavior during the forming processhow varying states of
pushing, stretching and drawing affect final shape and crash-worthiness.
Unfortunately, todays computer models cannot make accurate
predictions because they lack sufficient data on new material
behavior. NIST scientists, partnering with auto industry companies,
are working to provide substantial data on the behavior of new
materials through developing more effective measurement technologies.
industry spends some $700 million a year on sheet-metal forming
die sets, which shape the material into auto body parts. Arriving
at the final die set involves a lot of trial and error on the
production floor. New techniques are enabling NIST researchers
to collect data throughout the entire forming process rather than
just at the point the sample breaks or assumes its final shape.
They also are working on minimizing the costly problem of surface
roughening through detailed analysis of material microstructures
and the strains of the forming process. By designing more accurate
computer models, NIST will help manufacturers reduce the number
of unsuccessful try-outs, resulting in reduced cycle time for
making parts and overall cost savings for industry.
Manufacturer Slims Costs, Bulks Up Sales and Production
a time of year when many of us are trying to get leaner, ICON
Health and Fitness recently went on its own fitness program with
the help of the Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
A small manufacturer of health and exercise equipment in Clearfield,
Utah, ICON wanted to improve its production processes and eliminate
non-value-added activities. The company also wanted to find a
better way to maintain production equipment and involve employees
more in the process. Utah MEP trained ICON managers and employees
in lean manufacturing techniques. Originating in Japan in the
1970s, lean manufacturing is a concept that eliminates manufacturing
activities or actions that add no real value to the product or
training helped ICON eliminate waste; increase production by 9
percent; and improve employee effectiveness, saving $1.3 million
in labor costs. With their improved job skills, ICON employees
had more control over issues that affected their productivity
and job satisfaction. As a result, employee turnover and injury
rate declined while sales per employee grew by 3 to 4 percent.
For further information on the Utah MEP and its assistance to
ICON, contact James Winegar, (801) 764-7905. Small manufacturers
in all 50 states and Puerto Rico can reach their local NIST MEP
affiliate by calling (800) MEP-4MFG (637-4634).
Kosko, (301) 975-2767
X-Ray Beams Illuminate Microstructures of Materials
the UNICAT (University-National-Laboratory-Industry Collaborative
Access Team) facility at Argonne National Laboratorys Advanced
Photon Source opened up its new advanced X-ray instruments to
scientists in November 2000, the National Institute of Standards
and Technology already had been involved in two ways. First, NIST
funded, designed and built several of the devices for the Argonne,
Ill., facility, one of three sources in the world for hard
X-ray third-generation synchrotron radiation light
the brightest available X-ray beams. Secondly, NIST scientists
had put the new beams through their paces for a year, examining
the structures of materials such as metals, ceramics and polymers
at previously unattainable levels of microscopic detail.
area for which NIST researchers have been using the bright beams
is investigating what happens to materials as they deform
under stress. Other microstructural studies are helping define
a materials lifetime and in-service properties (such as
how heat and gas affect the ceramic coating inside a gas turbine
or how material coiled into a superconducting magnet behaves).
The extensive data collected from such experiments can be used
to create extremely accurate computer models of material behavior,
which, in turn, can result in cheaper, more efficient materials
Partnering with NIST in UNICAT are the Department of Energys
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Illinois and
UOP Research Inc.
Houghtaling, (301) 975-5745
Invited to Help Celebrate NIST's Birthday
do gas pumps, truck scales, blood cholesterol tests, DNA chips,
industrial lasers, satellite antennas, aircraft altimeters and
ballistics-resistant body armor have in common? In no small measure,
these diverse tools and technologies owe their reliable performance
to an indispensable, yet inconspicuous federal agency that is
about to celebrate its 100th
Founded March 3, 1901, the National Institute of Standards and
Technology has supplied a centurys worth of essential technical
contributions to science, industry, human health and safety, the
environment and national defense. Throughout the year 2001, the
agency that began life as the National Bureau of Standards will
be hosting events to highlight its past achievements and help
focus its attention on 21st-century science and technology needs.
events at NISTs Gaithersburg, Md., headquarters, and
its Boulder, Colo., facility include open houses; a History
and Reunion Day; special symposia and meetings; the
opening of a new interactive exhibit; the installation of a NIST
time capsule; and tours for industry leaders, government officials
and students. Reporters are eagerly encouraged to attend these
events, which are listed on the NIST Centennial web site at www.100.nist.gov.
E. Newman, (301) 975-3025
National Institute of Standards and Technology's 100th year of
service to America began on March 3, 2000, and will culminate
with our centennial anniversary one year later. For each month
during this period, NIST Tech Beat will recall a significant
event that occurred in the past century.
Cast Iron Standard Still Going Strong
of Upton Sinclairs The Jungle in January 1906 revealed
the gruesome working conditions, unsafe practices and lack of
quality controls in meat-packing plants. An outraged American
public demanded that standards be established for safer food.
Within six months, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act
and a meat inspection law.
At the same time, January 1906, researchers at the National Bureau
of Standards (now NIST) were fulfilling another request for standardsalthough
in this case, the clients were somewhat calmer.
The American Foundrymens Association, an organization representing
metalcasting industry, had asked NBS to take over the work of
preparing and distributing samples of standardized iron to its
members. To prepare the standards, quantities of iron were reduced
to fine borings and then carefully analyzed, divided into samples
of known composition as certified by the Bureau.
On Feb. 1, 1906, Standardized Iron Sample 5 was made available
to steel manufacturers who needed to verify the iron composition
of their product. Ninety-four years and 18 renewals later, the
standardnow called Cast Iron Standard 5mholds the
record for longest continuous service among NISTs vast portfolio
Standard Reference Materials are samples of solids, liquids or
gases characterized by NIST as having specific physical and chemical
properties. These certified artifacts help establish the quality
and reliability of devices, goods, medical data and scientific
E. Newman, (301) 975-3025
damage of pipes, lead-shielded cables and other underground metallic
structures by stray electrical currents from streetcar railways
prompted NIST to begin researching corrosion in 1910. Almost two
decades of NIST investigative work later, the use of sacrificial
anodes (metals such as zinc attached to a structure that attract
stray current and become corroded instead of the original target)
had become common practice.
corrosion research went coast-to-coast in the 1940s and 1950s
when the agency buried metal samples at 128 test sites around
the nation. The sites represented virtually every type of American
soil, including Gulf Coast clay, California silt loam and South
Carolina tidal marshland. The samples were unearthed periodically
and assessed for corrosion damage.
in the 1960s, corrosion experts at NIST expanded their research
to more non-traditional aspects of the field. Included were studies
of microbial involvement in metal degradation, the development
of ultrasonic evaluation techniques to pinpoint corrosion at its
earliest stages and investigations of the electronic structure
of metals to define the mechanisms of corrosion.