Crystal Structures Ltd
CONSULTANCY, DESIGN & BUILD
If you want a device, machine or apparatus, which you cannot buy ready made, a new design to suit your needs, or help with a project; then CSL can probably fulfil your wishes. We have been developing such solutions since 1947, in this country and abroad.
Well-equipped design-office, workshops and a network of contractors enable us to provide a complete service from initial concept to full manufacturing capability; working independently or with you.
Apparatus produced by CSL has been used for development of Terylene®, razor blades, photographic emulsions, atomic weapons, mining explosives, determining the structure of DNA, testing fuel injection pumps, producing and inspecting pharmaceutical products, single-crystal, semiconductor and piezoelectric-ceramic materials. This used our skills in physics, chemistry, crystallography, computer-aided-design, fine instrument making, light engineering, electronics, computers and programming, X-rays, optics, high voltage, high temperature, high vacuum and pressure, hydraulics, pneumatics, graphic arts and precision photography.
CASE STUDIES AND CLIENTS
Gillette had originally patented the use of stainless steel for razor blades but had not been able to make it work really well. Wilkinson bought a licence to use the patent and managed to produce superb blades. Gillette became worried that Wilkinson would push them out of the market and started to do some serious crystallographic investigation of what exactly was happening at the tip of the blade. They used a scanning microdensitometer built by Crystal Structures to measure their X-ray photographs and eventually solved the problem of hardening the edge sufficiently by modifying its crystal structure.
Kodak, AWRE Aldermaston and Safety in Mines Research Laboratory used similar machines for the quality control of photographic emulsions, development of atomic weapons and mining explosives. The institute of Ophthalmology in London wanted one working with red and green light to examine photographs of the retinas of patients suffering from glaucoma. The diameter of the blood vessels in the retina changes as pressure builds up in the eye and this could be measured from the photographs using the microdensitomer.
In 1938 our founder designed the world’s first automatic diffractometer and one of the later versions, we constructed, was used in refining the the structure of DNA. This instrument needed shaft encoders to register the angles at which the crystal was set, and interface them to a computer. As no suitable encoders were available at that time we designed and built our own. Another versions of this instrument, fitted with a vacuum furnace reaching 1400ºC was used in the development of special alloy steels.
During WW2, quartz was required to make frequency-tuning crystals for military communications and as supplies used to come from Brazil which became almost inaccessible at that time, our founders developed the laboratory technique of growing synthetic quartz crystals. There were other problems with quartz for which an understanding of the crystal structure was necessary, so they made models to represent it. We have now produced models of over 650 different structures. To assist his lecturing and demonstration for his course in Crystal Physics at the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology, in Cambridge, Dr Wooster designed, and CSL produced, a range of 20 practical experiments examining the properties of crystalline materials.
For CAV we built a test rig for inspecting fuel injection pumps incorporating a high-resolution shaft encoder we had developed.
Pharmaceuticals - Birth Control
On the pharmaceutical side we developed an X-ray inspection machine for silicone rubber birth control rings. These are torroidal rings 5cm across with a core containing the same drug as the PILL. The machine had to check a ring at 30 points, to determine if it had been made properly and then sort them into good ones and products rejects, all in 5 seconds. We also built a stainless steel extrusion press with refrigerated cylinder, for extruding the 2mm diameter silicone rubber core used in these rings. The extruder was followed by a 2m-long conveyor belt, heated to 180ºC, to cure the rubber.
For the semiconductor and piezoelectric crystal industries we have built X-ray machines to check how the crystals are orientated before cutting into wafers for making transistors, microcircuits, timing crystals and frequency filters.
Manufacturing & Subcontracting
For the semi-automatic production of roof-rack trunks we produced a series of pneumatic drilling machines with pneumatic logical control. The customer did not like computers and believed that pneumatic control would be easier to maintain.
We have recently produced a high-pressure batch extrusion press and heated laminating press for 1... Ltd, for use in the conversion of ceramic paste into transducers and actuators.
Specialised sub-contracting, involving electronics, encoders and special techniques in grinding and spark eroding, are among the services we have been able to provide for our customers.
So in conclusion, CSL has successfully undertaken projects in a wide variety of fields, offering total solutions to customer’s problems, both in the UK and abroad.