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Sight Glass Development Journey

Sight Glass Review | by | May 5, 2024

It's really a combination of market research plus design plus engineering. This is the beginning of a development journey where lots of research goes into existing products, then iterating on innovations.

River Thames starts here
Humble beginning. River Thames starts here. Photo credit: Robert Langenhövel

Designs do not happen in a vacuum. Designs happen because of an idea. We've manufactured hundreds of sight glass products customized for an application. With every new application, we learn. Customer's requirements are getting more interesting and more challenging. In one particular application the challenge was to design a sight window that holds 20,000 psi of pressure at 400 degrees Celsius temperature, at the same time. It's like asking for an investment that pays high dividend and offers high growth, all in one. In the world of process observation windows, there is a choice to make between designs for temperature or designs for high pressure. It's hard to combine both requirements into a sight window. Either the sight glass would self-destruct or it would be pricey with a long manufacturing lead time.

Lead Time Challenges

Our challenge is not design, or engineering, actually. Surprisingly, the challenge is in pricing of piece parts and lead time from their respective manufacturers. What needs to happen is market demand. This creates volume orders, which in turn creates shorter lead times and lower prices. This is a business strategy, really, rather than pure design driven approach.

Solution to Lower Price and Shorter Lead Time

Volume manufacturing of sight glass components such as housing and glass is the key to keeping competitive pricing. Working for the inventory is a very different approach than working on a custom designed sight glass.

NPT Sight Glasses First Article Inspection and Release

From the experience in many projects Encole designed standard sight glass products. Stable, robust and field tested. Target release to production of NPT high pressure sight glasses in Q3 2024.

NPT encole high pressure sight glasses
Various sizes of sight glasses in NPT fittings. Sapphire windows, 316L housings, Viton and Aflas internal sealing.