Transparency is the key to research and testing

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Transparency is the key to research and testing

Although the original purpose of the SR TEK transparent pressure vessels was to support the management of fluids on production lines, but in recent years, SR TEK has seen an increase in orders for research and development purposes. We are delighted to have provided transparent pressure vessels to a range of blue chip companies including Apple, research organisations like Boston Scientific and some of the world’s leading scientific universities, including Pennsylvania State University.

Here, SR TEK’s general manager, Loris Medart, discusses how vessels designed for use in industry are now revolutionising R&D.

“Fluids have long been seen as one of the most difficult substances to manage on a production line. Movement, pressure, temperature, and humidity are just a few of the factors that can drastically alter fluid performance. As a result, when creating the world’s only commercially available transparent pressure vessel we had to ensure it enabled complete control of the internal environment. Little did we know at the time, but this would also make them ideal benchtop testing vessels.”

Did you know that over the last three years, the SR TEK transparent pressure vessels have ben used in R&D to recreate the conditions experienced by:

• A battlefield helicopter
• A speeding bullet
• Underwater diving equipment
• A Formula 1 race car.

With nearly half of all transparent pressure vessels globally being used in R&D here are five ways they are solving common challenges in the lab.

  1. Opening a window on R&D

SR TEK is regularly approached by research and development teams for support with a wide range of applications, but essentially, each team is attempting to achieve the same thing.

They want to understand how the subject of their research responds to certain conditions. This could be by:

Adding a transparent pressure vessel then allows researchers to identify the exact point that any changes take place, create a visual record, and analyse the results. In some instances, being able to physically see trapped air bubbles in underwater equipment is the only way of knowing if there is a fundamental flaw with a product.

2. Ensuring reliable test conditions

For many laboratories, the lack of a commercially available transparent pressure vessel led to them building their own test rigs. However, this can lead to significant reliability issues with the testing environment. Poor durability and an inability to hold and maintain pressure can skew results and delay research. Time and again we hear from technicians and engineers who have attempted to create their own test vessels but have found they simply aren’t up to the task. Because SR-TEK pressure vessels were developed for use in industry, they are able to comfortably withstand rigorous testing, enabling pressures of between -1 and 4 bars and temperatures from 4 to 25˚C to be applied and maintained for extended periods.

3. Recreating real world conditions

Fail-safe testing and development for components that are in use in the toughest environments is essential. Conducting real world tests, however, is often costly, impractical, and difficult to measure. Fortunately, controlling, temperature, humidity and pressure can recreate those same conditions in the lab. One of the testing applications we were approached with recently focused on the environmental effects on three component parts of a speeding bullet. The challenges associated with monitoring and analysing in mid-air were insurmountable. However, by adjusting the variables within the testing chamber, we were able to apply the same amount of pressure and heat to know exactly how each component part would react after having been fired from a gun. 

4. Maintaining pressure

While it may sound simple, creating an airtight, transparent container which can maintain pressure or in some cases vacuum conditions for up to two weeks is no mean feat. Every entry point needs to be hermetically sealed and if the material used isn’t durable, researchers can find that they’ve created a benchtop bomb rather than an effective testing environment. Fortunately, because they are used in industry, each transparent pressure vessel follows Pressure Equipment Directive ASME regulations are fully certified by SR-TEK.

5. Customisation

One of the reasons self-built testing rigs are so common in the lab is that it allows the R&D team to customise the test environment. Thankfully, alterations can be made to transparent pressure vessels to allow for additional sensors, monitoring and controls as needed. One of the most common uses is in the testing and development of electronic components where additional ports are often needed to accommodate cables, measuring probes, precision regulators and ultrasonic level sensors. With a few custom modifications, engineers have been able to recreate conditions as varied as within the human body to 10,000 feet in the air.

Built to better manage fluids in production, transparent pressure vessels are now being specified in leading research and development departments and institutions globally. For the first time researchers are benefitting from a transparent, durable, benchtop testing environment that can reliably recreate some of the toughest conditions on the planet. 

Are you in a R&D team? Would you benefit from finding out more about SR-TEK’s transparent pressure vessels? There’s a few ways you can get in touch to find out more:

Further detail on clear pressure tanks, including free to access datasheets and technical drawings can be found at:

Connect with Loris Medart on LinkedIn:

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