Astro Pak has been justifiably proud of its decades-long legacy of leadership in the passivation, high purity and precision cleaning industry. One key to this legacy has been the depth of knowledge among its team of subject matter experts and Astro Pak’s dedication to staying on the forefront of the science behind the fields of metallurgy, chemistry and bacteriology with its own Research & Development team (R&D).
Over the years, these experts, aided by the internal research team have helped to create and develop industry standards as part of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) while also supporting Astro Pak’s field and cleanroom teams in solving complex, specialized technical challenges as they serve Astro Pak’s clientele. In the past year, Astro Pak has taken steps to enhance the already impressive capabilities of its team of experts.
In December of 2022, Astro Pak formed the Engineering Services Group (ESG). The ESG is made up of eight experts from across the company’s various divisions. Led by David Kittelson, the ESG consists of Brian Wenderski, Hyder Razvi, Jack Wilson, Jonathan Kluis, Michael Montgomery, Ricky Gilbert, and Ty Balmer. Team members will remain at their respective locations across the country, but by bringing them together in a single vanguard, they are better able to be connected with Astro Pak’s internal and external customers. All of these experts have held roles which have allowed them to acquire deep expertise in various aspects of the work that Astro Pak has performed over the decades. In fact, several of them have over 30 years of experience, making them a resource for institutional knowledge.
The move also formalizes what had been an ad-hoc process of providing design consultation for clients in the early stages of adding new systems. By being brought in during the design phase, ESG’s experts can evaluate a Piping and Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID) concept and provide design recommendations that will pay for itself many times over during the lifespan of the system. Design improvements can include achieving more efficient flow paths, proper pipe diameters and other nuances. And since every system will require preventative maintenance over its service life, incorporating steps to minimize the downtime needed will also improve operating costs. For the companies that engage Astro Pak early in the design, it is a savvy risk-reduction strategy and long-term investment on a major part of their infrastructure at a minimal additional cost to their design and construction budget.
Shortly after the formation of ESG, Astro Pak’s R&D Department was renamed the Technical Services Group (TSG) and was moved from its original Downey, CA location to the company’s Space Coast cleanroom facility in Titusville, FL. Led by Michael Johnson, the TSG consists of Bradley Hostetler – Metallurgist, Dr. Brent Ekstrand – Sr. Manager of Technical Support, Chad Clements – Chemical Engineer, and Ignacio Quiroz – Design Engineering Manager.
Being at the Space Coast location offers the practical advantage of having access to the extensive lab facilities there including the AS9100 Certified Class 6 cleanroom and advanced analytical tools such as a potentiostat for measuring corrosion resistance of samples, precision heated bench-top chemical baths for simulating real-world derouging and passivation processes, a 100x microscope, colorimeters for testing iron content, pH meters, conductivity meters and particulate and gravimetric analysis equipment.
This allows the team to provide real-time consultancy as well as conducting ongoing studies aimed at providing practical solutions to a variety of problems related to passivation, material compatibility, derouging, precision cleaning and bioburden remediation. The group will also be focused on continuing to advance Astro Pak’s standard processes while producing industry leading published research that will benefit multiple industries around the globe.
With these steps, Astro Pak intends to ensure that its commitment to industry leadership and staying at the forefront of the precision cleaning, passivation and high purity fields is not going to rely on its past laurels, but rather to build upon them.