Ceramic Industry

INSIDE CI: Puppy Love

February 1, 2008
The monthly roundup from Editor-in-Chief Susan Sutton.

I always said I would never get a puppy. I shook my head self-righteously when others would tell me of their puppies’ misadventures. “Not me,” I thought. “No way.” They might be cute, but the little guys require way too much time and energy for proper training, socialization and so on. Plenty of older dogs need good homes, and odds are they won’t chew everything they can get their teeth on.

I’m still not entirely sure how it happened. I’d decided that I wanted to get my daughter a dog for Christmas, so I was searching Petfinder.com. I saw an adorable coonhound mix puppy, and that’s when events get fuzzy in my mind. I e-mailed the rescue organization that had taken in the pup’s mom for more information. I spoke with a number of people there to get a more detailed understanding of him and his background. I picked him up the Friday before Christmas. I have nothing to say in my defense, except that I’d clearly suffered some sort of mental breakdown.

The puppy’s major strong point is the cuteness factor. He is irresistible, and it is truly difficult to stay angry with him-even in the face of messes, chewed books and general frustrations. Even when he’s getting into trouble, he carries on with such wild enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to laugh. There’s no way to predict what he’ll do from one second to the next and, while sometimes aggravating, he’s incredibly entertaining.

A puppy’s unpredictable nature is in direct contrast to the measured control we seek in industry. An enormous amount of time and money is spent making sure that processes and products consistently meet stringent requirements. For example, many different methods exist for powder characterization. A new automated solution has been developed for sieve size analysis that can quickly and accurately provide sieve results in real time (see “Automating Sieve Size Analysis”).

Material purity is vital to the success of many ceramic products, and X-ray fluorescent analysis (XRF) is a quick and relatively simple quality control method. The preparation of a homogenous and properly sized sample is crucial, however, and factors such as milling and other sample preparation methods must be considered to ensure consistent success (see “Quality Control”).

This issue also includes our second annual R&D Lab Equipment and Instrumentation Directory. The quick-reference chart lists suppliers* of products ranging from balances and blenders to surface area analyzers and viscometers, and display advertisers in this issue are marked in blue within the chart. In addition, contact information is listed for each supplier so you can quickly and easily request additional information on equipment to help ensure the success of your projects and products.

Only time will tell whether I can mold our wild, rambunctious young pup into a dependable, well-mannered dog. Luckily, a plethora of reliable tools is available to ensure that our manufacturing processes consistently produce high-quality end products.

*Supplier listings indicate paid advertising.