Browsing: Quality

As the seasoned mom of three grown children, I’m happy to say that they all made it through babyhood without any major health issues. While I worked as an analytical chemist at NIST during their baby years, I wasn’t working on reference materials for measuring nutrients in the foods that they ate or, even worse to think about, toxic elements in them. I mention this because recently I was asked about an article that reported traces of lead had been found in baby food. While feeding my babies I just assumed, and expected, the baby food they were eating was safe for them. After all, I thought, they are just babies, and we live in the land of milk and…

Although they are mass produced, every firearm is unique, and when fired, they leave unique markings called toolmarks on the bullet and cartridge casing. Law enforcement agencies have used these “fingerprints” to match firearms with bullets as part of their criminal investigations for more than a century. While forensic evidence of this kind wouldn’t likely be enough to get a conviction on its own, it has played a crucial role in linking suspects to crimes, and the ability of firearms examiners to make those matches has never been a source of controversy … until recently. In 2009, a report by the National Academy of Sciences questioned, among other things, the lack of objective methods for evaluating and identifying toolmarks. To…

Whether they’re made of leather or metal, people have been using tape measures for a long time. The first spring-loaded metal tape measure was invented and patented in England in 1829. Alvin Fellows of New Haven, Conn., made improvements to that design, including the locking mechanism that stops the tape from retracting until you want it to, and received a patent on July 14, 1868, a date that is now celebrated by tape measure enthusiasts like myself as National Tape Measure Day. Tape measures are indispensable tools. We use them to build houses, to tailor clothes and to ensure fairness in trade and sports, pretty much any situation where we need to know the length of something. Many years ago…

I research additive manufacturing, which some people call solid freeform fabrication, but most people know as 3-D printing. Additive manufacturing covers a wide range of processes that we can use to build parts and whole structures by strategically adding material only where we need it. Building parts by adding material a bit at a time allows us to build geometries and features that we never could using traditional processes such as cutting, forging, or casting. For instance, with 3-D printing we can make complex, ultralightweight parts by building their internal structures using the least material possible. We can build these parts complete with winding internal passages for fluids to flow. And we can make them out of different materials depending…

Want to pique interest in a subject area? Throw a party — right? Enter 2008 and World Accreditation Day. It was Monday, June 9, to be exact. I would love to be able to say that the date has some significance, but it doesn’t. To my knowledge, it was just randomly selected by the event organizers. And while the specific date of June 9 might not have had significance, the purpose of the celebration did and still does. The annual event, jointly sponsored by the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation and International Accreditation Forum, is part of a global initiative to raise awareness about the importance of accreditation. You might ask “what is accreditation?” It’s an interesting question, and one that is easily…

1 2