Sight Glass Optical Comparison

Posted by on 24th June 2014

On the very bottom of the picture is the sight glass where the window is bonded into the housing. In the middle and the top of the picture there are fused sight glasses. The two fused sight glasses have drastically different pressure, temperature and corrosion resistance ratings. The shiny one – the top of the picture is rated to 1450 psi, and 280 degrees C. It’s also chemically resistant to most oxidizing environments. The sight glass in the middle is weaker, rated to 125 psi and 150 degrees C. It’s also made from zinc plated carbon steel, less corrosion resistant than the one on the top.

The sight glass on the bottom has all the strength and corrosion resistance of the best fused glass plus optical clarity bar none, as shown with this NPT thread page in the background. Courtesy Machinist Handbook, circa 2010 edition.

All sight glasses shown are standard NPT 1/2″ thread. Usable aperture size differ significantly, as seen in the readable text behind the glass.


Posted by on 20th May 2014

Machines are the short answer to lower cost and better quality. We are developing machines these days to help us make sight glasses with speed and improved consistency. We’ve been busy beavers with our usual production cycles making custom sight windows, and now also focusing on building our production line for standard NPT sight glasses, Metric and SAE sight glasses. For that we need machines; we need to design them, engineer them, fabricate them. It’s a fun little diversion from designing high temperature sight glasses for all kinds of applications around the world.

Designing a production machine for a line of our products is all local activity where close collaboration with mechanical, electrical, manufacturing and automation engineers is important. We are pushing our shop a bit further these days, with weekly updates to review the progress. A few things remain to be added to the design, such as limit switches on linear stages, programming for synchronized moves between the machine stages, that’s about it. We should have the main frame components assembled this week. Commissioning is planned for mid-June, just in time for the ramp in production in the second half of the year. We are looking forward to better yields and automating our sight glass manufacturing process. With that we will be compliant with ISO 9001. Obtaining the actual ISO 9001 certification should be the next logical step when the machines are on line. Fun second half of ’14.

New Year 2014 Wishes

Posted by on 26th January 2014

By now most cultures have celebrated their New Year’s Day. We already have a few things to celebrate as we start our new fiscal year. We’ve completed our enterprise resource planning system, ERP. You know, the boring stuff, the necessary evil. But it really works, it really helps us do a better job of organizing our business. Also we’ve started manufacturing Encole sight glasses. For this year we wish to add another tab in the header of our website. This tab will be “Distributors”, where a world map will start showing the Encole logo in various parts of Canada, Latin America, Europe, and South Africa. We currently sell in these areas and people are constantly asking us if we have stocking distributors. We should. This is going to be interesting to see if the Distributors we find would want to sell their existing lines through the catalog.

Another wish is to balance our passion for being fiscally productive with passion for finding joy in the moment.

A couple of my friends very capable of riding no longer ride their motorcycles. Incidentally, both had an R6, a hoot motorcycle to ride. I cannot imagine how they live in Silicon Valley after being bitten by celestial feelings of riding, perfect weather year around, and suddenly not riding. Oh, yes, on a bike you are above traffic and there is always traffic in the Bay Area. So you have tangible benefits of a fun commute to work. Actually, the commute part on a bike is really secondary, with the fun built into every ride. Suddenly arriving to work for an exciting day at the office are very balanced. I think the joys of the moment most people seek are so clear to find in riding. Here are a few examples.

Fun. Mental sharpness. Quick decision making. Somewhat athletic activity. That roller-coaster feeling. Machine’s instant response. Satisfaction in “I can do it”. A hand waive to fellow bikers on the road. Human connection with others. A connection between man and machine.

I can’t think of more at the moment, but in a word, these are attributes of Passion. What do we want from life? I think bikers have a leg up on this. My really big wish is for more people finding a way to live their passions, not necessarily by biking, but in something, anything. Happy New Year everybody, 2014 is upon us, make a wish. Write it down, read it every day and put a plan behind it. It will come true!

Encole Quality Assurance Philosophy

Posted by on 19th January 2014

Recently we’ve stepped into the realm of big business. Our customers are asking us for our Quality Plan. That is how we guarantee that our products work, work consistently and meet the stated performance specifications. We do have a plan. And we do strive to provide quality products. So, we have this to share without divulging too much know-how and our proprietary methods.

Introduction to Quality Plan at Encole is this:
There is a sense of pride in our work. At the end of the day we are confident in our products. We take comfort knowing that somewhere in the world we’ve created a satisfied customer. This sense of confidence and achievement cannot be accomplished at random. Our internal processes are guided by consistently following our Encole’s quality assurance principles:

  • Product quality assurance by vendor relations and compliance with standards.
  • Attentive and clear communications with customers.
  • Easy-to-use tracking of workflow through ERP and PDM.


This quality plan has no part number and it’s not a controlled document as our specific manufacturing documents. This is really more our quality philosophy than a plan that is intended to be freely shared with Encole employees, affiliates, suppliers and customers. Internal manufacturing instructions have proprietary information and cannot be shared outside of Encole.

Product Quality Assurance by Vendor Relations and Compliance with Standards
Encole manufactures high performance sight windows in various types such as NPT-threaded, Metric-and SAE-threaded, Conflat-flanged and ASME-flanged viewports in different sizes. We are constantly looking for new products to develop and sell.

Product quality starts when creating a great design. This step involves our engineering personnel who have appropriate education and training in the fields of mechanical, electrical and manufacturing engineering, optics and applied physics. Several of our engineers have advanced degrees such as Master’s Degrees and PhD. Our general approach is to retain excellent relationships with our qualified personnel and affiliates. This is generally accomplished by creating freedom from fear of making wrong decisions and reassuring job security by diversifying our products across target industries in every part of the world. We believe that lasting relations with our affiliates are important to consistent quality. We have the same approach with our vendors, subcontractors and suppliers.

After design work is completed comes the next critical step in quality assurance. It’s technical and easily sustainable with our adhesion to standards and procedures.

Every finished product has a Bill of Materials, (BOM) and associated Manufacturing Assembly Instructions & Procedures, (MAP). Every drawing of a part or an assembly complies with the ANSI Y14.5M-1994 Drafting Standard. This is the current standard in the USA today for Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, GD&T. Encole engineers are trained and experienced in the art. Several of Encole affiliates hold certifications in CAD systems used in production of part drawings.

During the design process each part goes through numerical revision as needed to engineer the part. We use CAD systems such as SolidWorks and Pro-E. During this phase we perform engineering due diligence by analyzing the part for mechanical and thermal stresses using finite element analysis, FEA. The goal is to determine the theoretical Factor of Safety, FOS. When parts have been designed we perform tolerance stack-up analysis to finalize production drawings. Upon request we can furnish our sample drawings. Once the engineering process is complete, the parts are promoted to Production Lifecycle Status, and revisions become alphabetical. Alphabetical parts are our revenue units and any changes are treated through an Engineering Change Order, ECO. Typically to enact an ECO, a request has to be made from Marketing.

Our incoming inspection of articles starts with a report provided to us from our fabrication shops. We specify “Inspection Dimensions” on the face of a drawing and typically parts are rejected should the specifications be not met. Our fabrication facilities for metal parts, or quartz, or ceramic components have clean rooms with coordinate-measuring machines, CMM with resolutions to 0.0001 inches, that is 1”/10,000. This resolution is more than enough to measure deviations, as most of our parts, with the exceptions of optical components, have tolerances of 0.001 inches.

In addition to the dimensional report from the fabrication shop we perform a secondary inspection at our facility in San Jose, California, where we mainly perform the functions of inspection, assembling, testing, and final packaging.

On our assembly drawing we specify the bill of materials of every component that goes into the finished product and also the MAP, (Manufacturing Assembly & Instruction Procedures). This document clearly shows how to put together an assembly or a sub-assembly of the product. MAP is a typed document with its own part number, PDM- controlled. MAPs are located on the assembly floor. The document has a list of tools and fixtures used in production of the product, with photographs and instructions on how to actually use the tooling.

Each fabrication step has its own MAP. Our production workflow typically is broken down into the following steps:

  1. Initial inspection of individual parts
  2. Individual parts cleaning
  3. Assembling according to BOM
  4. As applicable, use of heating equipment
  5. Post assembly cleaning
  6. Testing
  7. Final Inspection
  8. Packaging.


With the product packaged and ready to ship our quality assurance does not stop. Customers depend on us, sometimes with technical advice on choosing the right sight glass or help with the logistics of expediting, availability and pricing.

Attentive and Clear Communications with Customers
First off, we try to minimize telephone transfers for incoming customer calls. When people call they want to talk to a person, not a machine. From there, we simply listen.

Easy-to-Use Tracking of Workflow Through ERP and PDM
Underneath is a very powerful database that makes our work a joy. We have a web-based system with tracking Customer Orders as they are generated via the shopping cart on, or manually entered on customer’s purchase orders, PO. In addition we have a Requisition System tracking orders Encole makes with our suppliers. The system was developed custom. This is not a commercially available one, making it secure and tightly fit for our needs. It’s intuitive and easy to use, taking full advantage of the hard-to-error approach.

WTF: A review of The World’s End

Posted by on 2nd September 2013

My fellow Americans, we as a Nation need to take a moment and meditate upon the fact that the British kick our collective ass at comedy. It’s just a fact.


Shhhh ….

Don’t argue.

Okay look: Go and watch the British and American versions of “Death at a Funeral” and then come back and shut up.

Ready? Good.

This is not a low-brow versus high-brow thing. The premiss of The World’s End, which I will not spoil for you, is insanely ludicrous. It’s just that the Brits can put people in bizarre, unbelievable circumstances and have them do bizarre, unbelievable things without turning them into the buffoonish barely human grotesqueries that seem to populate most mainstream American comedies.

Not only is British comedy smarter, but they take time to set-up and craft their jokes while their American brethren rely heavily on silly slapstick sight gags. For example, throughout The World’s End, as circumstances become increasingly incredible, Oliver “O-man” Chamberlain (played to uptight perfection by Martin Freeman) repeatedly exclaims, “W. T. F.?” until an exasperated Gary “The King” King (played with reckless abandon by Simon Pegg) replies, “WHAT THE FUCK DOES WTF MEAN?!??”

The World’s End is about five childhood friends who haven’t seen each other in decades reuniting in middle age to recreate the best night of their young lives: a pub crawl involving 12 pubs along the Golden Mile, terminating at The World’s End. As youths they failed to complete this epic journey and Pegg’s manic man-child Gary is now determined to finish the crawl “if it kills us.” And then, as they say, mayhem ensues.

Not only is The World’s End laugh-out-loud funny throughout (which is not something I say very often) but it also carries deeper messages about getting older and the danger of nostalgia which are delivered in heartfelt interludes that are interspersed through the hilarity and insanity. The film is so finely crafted that if you pay attention you will realize that the plot is actually spelled out by the names of the twelve pubs, from The First Post to The World’s End. Some action or event takes place in each pub that is relevant to its name.

Sadly this film marks the end of the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy (after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz). But happily it is also Simon Pegg’s strongest performance to date. Pegg’s Gary King is a ball of unbalanced energy with not an iota of self-awareness. It’s not just that he won’t ever admit that he’s wrong, it’s more that he doesn’t understand the concept that he COULD be wrong. By turns infuriating and adorable, witty yet clueless, he is the male personification of a hot mess. You don’t want to be friends with Gary, but you definitely want to be friends with his friends so you can hear the stories.

With an excellent cast and a razor sharp script this is a thoroughly enjoyable, if incredibly off-beat movie.

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