In early 2018, Torr Scientific Ltd (TSL), a high vacuum components company, was selected to supply 200 stainless steel window flanges for vacuum viewports with fused silica and Kodial glass optics for the CERN accelerators at the Large Hadron Collider.
The window flanges requested were within TSL’s manufacturing capabilities but at the time TSL did not have the equipment required for vacuum bakeout testing and very low pressure leak testing. TSL made the business decision to invest in a dedicated Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) system in order to be awarded the contract, allowing their bid to comply with CERN’s requirements. Following bid submission, CERN visited TSL to assess their capabilities; they were satisfied TSL could fulfill their requirements and the contract was placed in early 2019.
For this contract, TSL designed new low profile DN16CF window flanges and samples were sent to CERN for evaluation. On approval of the samples, manufacturing of the DN16CF window flanges and the other window flanges commenced. During the evaluation period, the UHV system was built and tested. CERN visited TSL for the initial tests and following CERN’s approval of the equipment and test methods, the rest of the order was subsequently fulfilled. On arrival at CERN, the window flanges passed the stringent test conditions which are stipulated by the facility.
The window flanges will be primarily used for the Wire Scanner Beam instrument; an instrument which is designed to measure beam profiles within the accelerator, allowing CERN’s scientists to have a visualization of a cut through the particle beam. The flanges will be put to use on a number of different types of beam instruments in a variety of CERN accelerators.
The UHV system TSL invested in for this contract is now being used to test experimental glass cells for quantum computing applications; it allows TSL to bake parts and leak check at very low pressures and as such is ideally suited to the task.
CERN were happy with the work produced by TSL, with Gerhard Schneider – one of the officers supervising the contract – noting that: “TSL has successfully fulfilled the CERN requirements as stipulated in a highly demanding technical specification. TSL gave a competitive price at an international tender.”
Photographs from the first batch of viewports mounted on the specially designed vacuum test rig.
(Credit: Torr Scienitific)
CERN were very pleased with the quality and delivery of the first order, and decided to place a further order via an annex to the existing contract under the same terms and conditions as before at a value of around £30k. These window flanges are currently being manufactured and are due to be delivered in May 2019.
The contract in question was subject to the alignment rule; a stipulation in CERN’s procurement policy which allows CERN to award contracts over 100kCHF to firms from poorly balanced Member States under certain conditions2. Torr Scientific benefitted from this rule and were awarded the contract after aligning their price to the lowest bidder from a well-balanced Member State.
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Last updated: 08 July 2019