Surface Finish and 3-D Printing Are Big Topics at Recent BPE Meetings

Aarash Navabi, CPIP, Director of Research + Development, Research Dynamics, Massachusetts Division of L.J. Star, participates on several critical ASME Bioprocessing Equipment (BPE) Committees, the Surface Finish Subcommittee, the Polymers Subcommittee and is leading another Task Group for BPE. At meetings held in San Diego, California in May 2018, Aarash reported on a variety of committee discussions and decisions that drive the processing industry.

I belong to the Surface Finish (SF) Subcommittee and I am the SF liaison to the Polymers Subcommittee. Although there has been no major activity between the Surface Finish and Polymers subcommittees, there’s potential to form a Task Group related to the surface finish of polymers and their requirements. At this time, SF is only applicable to the surface finish of metals in contact with product. Because the polymers are in contact with the product, it may be necessary to determine or develop standards that apply to the surface finish of polymers as well. However, this change will not happen until 2022.

Additionally, in the area of R&D, I have initiated discussion about 3-D printed parts, made of plastic and metal. It is inevitable that this technology will soon be used to manufacture parts in our industry. At this time, given that there are no standards that address this technology, it may be possible for companies to manufacture parts design for product contact. This is of great concern because 3-D printing of plastic parts cannot produce surface finishes that are acceptable; however, because there is no acceptance criteria or requirements for surface finish of 3-D printed parts, nothing limits the use of 3-D printing. Because 3-D printers work by putting one layer of material on top of another, there are gaps between them that can trap micro-organisms in them. That’s why I needed to initiate discussions and plant the seed of caution.

At the same time, we are the first company that has produced a 3-D printed part for use in product contact applications in the food and beverage industry. These controlled experiments are designed to determine the capability of 3-D printed parts and their level of acceptance. Although 3-D printing technology is not cost-effective today in these applications, it is bound to become so for some parts that are impossible to manufacture with today’s machining and molding technology. In addition to 3-D printing of plastic parts, 3-D printing metal parts has its own benefits and negatives, which require further discussion in the SF group, now being planned for 2020.  The greatest concern is producing and electro-polishing metal parts that can meet most or even all surface finish acceptance criteria requirements but that will still have a porous structure. This topic is directly related to the SF Subcommittee.

I take an active role in three Task Groups within the SF Subcommittee. I’m part of a Task Group that’s developing wording for direct visual examination and indirect visual examination, a new section that will be added to BPE in 2022. This year, we defined that whenever a visual examination is performed where the photon absorbed by the eye is the same photon that left the examination area is considered a direct visual examination. This means that even if a microscope is being used, it is considered a direct visual examination. This statement is in conflict with past definitions that defined using a magnifying glass or a visual aid tool as an indirect visual examination method. Subsequently, indirect visual examination has been redefined: Whenever there is an interruption in the photon that is received by the eye and the photon that has left the examination area, it is considered an indirect visual examination. For example, if the photon that has left the examination area is received by a film or by a computer so that it is saved or transported in the form of data, the photon that is being received by the eye is not the same as the photon that has left the examination area. An interruption in the path of the photon has occurred, so it is considered indirect visual examination. The same task group will define the proper acceptance criteria for both indirect and direct visual examination methods such as lighting, distance of inspection, etc., so the decisions this Task Group will make will be critical to L.J. Star’s operations.

I also participate in a Task Group assigned to define surface finish anomalies. Currently, many anomalies are listed in the SF section of the standard to help the industry determine what is acceptable and what is not. Although there are very clear acceptance criteria for the surface finishes of metals, end users and manufacturers must be able to identify and communicate anomalies together. However, the anomaly definitions were written long ago, and many have no scientific rationale backing them up. For example, four pits in an inspection window is considered acceptable. This acceptance criteria has no scientific value, so coming up with new definitions will require significant research. Therefore, every definition will remain as-is until a new definition with a proper scientific value can be created. Stainless steel coupons have been created for perform the required experiments. Someone within the committee will review, verify and validate the data collected, including pictures and properties of these surfaces. Fortunately, I was involved in a similar activity in 2016, so I have much of the equipment necessary to perform these tests and I volunteered to perform the review for this new Task Group.

This Task Group also brings the 3-D printing issue to the discussion table. The issues I noted for 3-D printing could be considered an anomaly. There has been some discussion about removing all the definitions and replacing them with acceptance criteria; however, this is would be considered a step backwards because readers of the standard would not know whether ASME recognizes anomalies. However, if the definitions remain and are scientifically measurable, that makes it clear that the anomalies were not overlooked and were fully thought through, even if anomaly is not significant enough to warrant concern. For example, orange peel of the surface is an acceptable anomaly, but the definition will remain in the standard to demonstrate that the anomaly has been fully thought through and deemed acceptable. If the definition were removed, many inspectors might consider orange peel an unacceptable anomaly, which could result in unnecessary product rejections.

Finally, I’m leading a Task Group intended to answer a question posed to ASME by an inspector. The question arose as a result of the new 2018 standard that eliminated references to ASTM standards for visual examination. Because the references were eliminated, the certification of visual inspectors or examiners was also eliminated. The question posed was whether inspectors were still required to meet the previously referenced certifications. I did some research on what is necessary for visual examination and proposed an answer. Once an answer has been produced and proposed, this Task Group may be completed without the need to change the standard’s wording. However, if the answer does not clarify the problem, it may be necessary to propose a change to the document to clarify and address future questions. Regardless of what decision is made, I expect this Task Group will complete its work by 2019 for the 2020 edition.

ASME Committee Updates Specs on Hygienic Clamp Unions

Gabe Montgomery, Engineering Manager, Tank Components Industries, an L.J. Star subsidiary located in Springfield, Missouri, is one of several L. J. Star engineers to serve on important ASME Bioprocessing Equipment (BPE) Committees. His work on the committee is part of the company’s contribution to advancing the technologies that shape our industry and to keep our customers informed on changes in the field. BPE held several meetings in San Diego, California in May 2018, and Gabe reports back on what he heard:

ASME Process Instrumentation Committee Makes Progress at Recent BPE Meeting

ASME LogoMichael Bosley, one of L.J. Star’s Product Support Specialists, took part in ASME Bioprocessing Equipment (BPE) Committee Meetings, held May 7-10, 2018, in San Diego, California. As a leading supplier to the biotechnology industry, we take our responsibility to participate in advancing the industry very seriously. By participating in the work of these committees, we hope to stay on the leading edge of evolving technologies; at the same time, we want to share updates on the topics these committees are weighing with you, so you can stay up to date on industry trends.

Mike participates in the Subcommittee on Process Instrumentation, part of the Bioprocessing Equipment Standards Committee and the Board on Pressure Technology Codes and Standards. Process instrumentation includes sensors, transmitters, analyzers, controllers, recorders, transducers, control elements, and supporting components such as light sources and sight glasses.

The Task Group on Optical Devices was formed to revise the language in the Optical (sight glass) section of the BPE Specification and move that content from System Design (SD) to Process Instrumentation (PI). The task group will be responsible for content related to sight glasses, fused glass, and lighting.

The four-year Task Group on Turbine Flow Meters is charged with adding new content to the BPE Specification on the use of Turbine Flow Meters in product contact lines. The section for Turbine Flow Meters has been written from scratch, balloted numerous times, revised and re-submitted, and is now undergoing final balloting. Non-mandatory content is also being developed while balloting continues.

The Subcommittee on Process Instrumentation has begun development of a template for use as an unofficial guide for developing new content. This template has been submitted to the Main committee and has been accepted for use. Process Instrumentation Subcommittee members have voted and approved the use of the template, and a formal ballot to the Main Subcommittee will follow.

Key Lighting Questions for Craft Brewing Success

A “Light” Recipe for Craft Brewing Success


Halogen lamps were once the standard choice for craft brewers’ vessel sight glass lighting. However, a new generation of LED luminaires is growing in popularity for this application. Consider these questions to decide whether it’s time for your brewery to invest in making the switch to LEDs.

  1. How hard is it to verify your vessels are thoroughly cleaned?

An improperly cleaned vessel can quickly lead to costly cross-batch contamination problems and unsellable products. LED luminaires can provide twice the light output of halogens or more, so it’s easier to confirm the effectiveness of your cleaning process.

  1. What are the hidden costs associated with your halogen lights?

The output of a typical halogen bulb is 15 percent light and 85 percent heat, with the heat coming from the infrared light the bulb produces, which can’t be seen by the naked eye. Unlike halogens, LED luminaires produce 55.6 lumens per watt of electricity consumed while producing little or no heat. In contrast with halogen lights, which have fragile filaments, LED lights are vibration and impact resistant, offering dramatically longer lifetimes for lower maintenance costs and fewer process interruptions.

  1. What color do you think your beer is?

The yellowish light that halogens produce can be problematic if you need to check the beer’s color to make process adjustments at various points. Their 2800K color temperature also approximates dusk and can cause eye fatigue. LED luminaires typically produce a white light with a cool color temperature that is optimal for illuminating stainless steel vessels.

On the left we can see the perceived color produced by halogen lights and on the right we can see the more true to life color with LED luminaires sight glass lights.

Compare the perceived color produced by halogen lights (left) with the more true to life color when LED luminaires (right) are used.


  1. Are your halogen lights a pain to keep clean?

Halogen bulbs are installed in a wide range of fixtures, which may or may not be optimized for food and beverage production, complicating the cleaning process. In contrast, some of the latest LED luminaire designs have a wash-down-safe, crevice-free design that is dust and waterjet tight and are constructed of food-grade stainless steel.

  1. Does controlling your sight glass lighting require climbing a ladder?

Switching halogen lights on or off often requires climbing to the top of the vessel to access a manual switch on the light itself, raising the risk of injuries. A growing range of LED luminaires support remote control over a broader array of operating modes, such as momentary, short timed and long timed. A variety of factory-programmable options are also available, including timer duration, initial brightness, and LED on at power up.

  1. Do you customers prefer “greener” brewers?

LED luminaires provide optimal illumination while consuming just one-tenth of the energy of a conventional halogen light. Lowering your brewery’s carbon footprint by switching to LED luminaires helps reinforce the message that you’re serious about your operation’s impact on the environment.

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For more details on LED-based sight glass lighting options for craft brewing, download L.J. Star’s free informative white paper (pdf): Crafted for Success: Six Vital Questions for Brewery Sight Glass Lighting.

Why Metaglas®

Why Metaglas® Is Considered the Safest Sight Glass in the World

Since it was developed in the 1970s, Metaglas® has been known as the safest sight glass in the world. A number of chemical and manufacturing companies collaborated to create Metaglas, and to establish the standard with which it complies and by which all other sight glass is measured, a standard now called DIN7079.

Metaglas was created to improve safety conditions within plants that handled corrosive chemicals, chemicals worked at high temperatures and those worked under high pressures. The safety concerns became serious enough that competing companies joined forces to create Metaglas.

Sight Glass Accessories Increase Versatility and Improve Function

Using sight glasses is essential in the production of pharmaceuticals, as is maintaining the functionality and cleanliness of those sight glasses. The good news is that a wide variety of sight glass accessories are available to assist pharmaceutical manufacturing personnel in the production of pure, high-quality product in every batch.


Sight glass wipers aid visibility by cleaning the inside glass surface of light ports and sight ports. Wiper assemblies must be constructed of high-grade stainless steel with either Teflon or silicone blades and work in conjunction with a spray ring or set of spray nozzles. They come in two types.

The Type I manual wipers require a bore-hole through the sight glass. They can operate at temperatures as high as 220 degrees F and under pressures as high as 90 psi.

When a higher-pressure sight glass requires cleaning, the Type II manual wiper, in conjunction with a DIN28120 sight glass, must be used. Type II wipers require a threaded bore hole through the sight glass cover and weld pad for proper installation. Type II wipers can operate at temperatures of up to 428 degrees F and pressures as high as 235 psi.

Sight glass wipers can be motorized and automated. Constructed in both explosion-proof and non-explosion-proof models, the explosion-proof models are rated to EEx d IIC T5 (Zones 1 & 2 and 21 & 22) and are able to operate in ambient temperatures ranging from minus 4 degrees F to 122 degrees F. Motors generally fit specific types, sizes, and brands of wipers, and operate on a variety of direct and alternating currents.

Spray Rings and Nozzles

Sight glass wipers operate together with a spray ring or spray nozzles to achieve effective cleaning. The spray ring must fit ANSI flange connections for use in intermittent or continuous pressure-cleaning operations. For versatility, the ring delivers a variety of spray media, including fluid or air. The rings can include varying numbers of spray nozzles depending ring diameter. They are also available in different materials and sizes for diverse applications. Materials used include carbon steel, stainless steel, Hastelloy, and other alloys. Temperature and pressure ratings vary depending on the ring material and ANSI-rating.


Sight glass light timers are convenient where illumination is limited to a specific period. A timer switches lights on and off automatically, reducing power consumption and heat build-up, and providing improved lamp life. Timers fit either externally to, or internally within the containment vessel, can operate in hazardous and non-hazardous conditions, within a wide temperature range, and at a variety of voltages.

Heating Jacket

The heating jacket is an additional accessory for standard (view through) sight flow indicators. Steam from the heating jacket prevents cool spots in the process line while allowing observation and preserving a clear view of the manufacture process.

Use of the wide variety of available sight glass accessories can significantly improve the drug manufacture process.

A UV Sight Glass Light Optimizes your Process Vessel Inspection

For pharmaceutical manufacturers, maintaining the cleanliness of their facilities, especially their stainless-steel process vessels, is Job #1. A UV light for your sight glass can help, as UV light can be used to inspect and verify SIP and CIP procedures have done an adequate job.

Vessels must be cleaned and sterilized thoroughly between each product batch. This is important to prevent contamination from previous batches or residual cleaning agents from adulterating the product. Depending on the type of drug being produced, an inadequately cleaned vessel could potentially force the facility to quality reject millions of dollars’ worth of compromised product.

2017 Chem Show

The Chem Show is where engineers, plant managers and other CPI personnel come together to see the latest equipment & technology, meet product experts, and discover new ways to optimize their plant operations. Bringing together more than 5,000 industry professionals and 300 exhibiting companies, the Show is the largest North American event exclusively focused on the processing of fluids, powders and gases. Held every odd year since 1915, the Chem Show has a proven track record of helping the CPI meet the ongoing demand for faster, smarter, cleaner, and more efficient processing facilities.

Don’t forgot to stop by booth 431 while you are there!


Start:     October 31
End:       November 2
Event Tags:


Javits Center
655 W 34th St
New York, NY 10001 United States

How to specify an ATEX explosion-proof light for your sight glass

How to specify an ATEX explosion-proof light for your sight glass

The many ratings and standards bodies can be a confusing alphabet soup of acronyms… ATEX, UL, NEC, IEC, IP and NEMA. When is ATEX the right one?ATEX Explosion Proof Logo

If you are considering an ATEX explosion-proof light for your sight glass, then you already know that a light with an ATEX rating will be safe to operate in a potentially explosive atmosphere.

First, forget about IP and NEMA ratings. Those define housings. For example,