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Standards Lab open for business.

The Primary Standards Laboratory at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., now provides computer-aided standards and calibration services to private enterprises, universities, and government organizations. Previously, the laboratory worked primarily for the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Weapons Complex sites.

The lab has a staff of 50 metrologists who can make high-precision measurements in highly controlled environments, according to Ralph Johnson, manager of Sandia's Measurement Standards Program Area. It assures the integrity of measurements for customers by certifying standards, developing measurement techniques, and advancing metrological research. Each year, the lab certifies more than 2000 standards in over 80 areas, encompassing physical, electrical, and radiation disciplines.

For example, the laboratory offers a special universal coordinate measurement machine for use in manufacturing applications requiring highly precise physical calibration. The machine can measure objects with complex shapes with a precision of 0.025 micrometers (about 0.0003 the width of a human hair). All such measurements are performed interferometrically using the wavelength of a laser beam to maintain a high degree of accuracy.

The Primary Standards Laboratory calibrates gas leak detectors used throughout Sandia's weapons complex to evaluate the integrity of critical seals and vacuum equipment. Gas leaks are measured using computer-controlled, high-vacuum magnetic-sector mass spectroscopy.

The lab also has instruments that calibrate temperature standards up to 2300 [degrees] C and gas-flow standards used to calibrate flow meters up to 50 cubic feet per minute.

Sandia has the only facility in the United States for calibrating equipment that detects neutron pulses. (Such equipment is essential to nuclear weapons research.) Other facilities are available for calibrating high-power lasers used in welding applications.

The Primary Standards Laboratory is housed in a $30-million, 55,000-square-foot facility dedicated last November. The new building has many features that protect its instruments' sensitivity. In some areas. of the lab, for example, temperatures can be maintained within [+ or -]0.01 [degrees] C. Vibration was virtually eliminated in the complex by placing the 23,000-square-foot lab on two 2-foot-thick reinforced concrete slabs. The slabs are post-tensioned, rest on an engineering fill, and are isolated from the ground and other sections of the building by an air column surrounding the periphery of each slab.

Each lab module has built-in electromagnetic-radiation shields. In addition, several individual laboratory areas have steel shields to protect sensitive measurement equipment, and all entries - doors, air-conditioning ducts, and electrical and plumbing openings - are filtered or shielded.

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Title Annotation:Primary Standards Laboratory
Author:Deitz, Dan
Publication:Mechanical Engineering-CIME
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Words:400
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