Magic in the workshop
Having it’s own workshop has been one of the secrets behind NIOM’s success as a high quality testing and research Institute.
The workshop is impeccably clean, with well used tools and instruments, all neatly tucked into their designed place.
NIOM’s toolmakers Dimitri Alkarra and Erik Kleven. Their workshop serve all three fields of the research institute: biology, metallurgy and polymer chemistry.
It’s not quite Gepetto’s workshop, but magic still happens at NIOM’s instrument workshop. The two toolmakers both have engineering backgrounds, as well as a combined 56 years of experience. They are NIOM’s “secret” resource, and even does jobs for external clients.
Most days the toolmakers Erik Kleven and Dimitri Alkarra are busy with NIOM projects. They build 2-3 bigger instruments every year, as well as several smaller projects. Creativity and material knowledge is a big part of the job.
– The ISO-standards typically focus on what to measure, rather than exactly how to do it. Sometimes there is a drawing, or some technical information, but usually we have to figure it out on our own, Kleven says.
Quite often, they’ll buy some premade parts or partial machine that they can build the design on. The results are always less costly, and a better fit for NIOMs testing needs, than anything on the market. A recent example being the mechanical masticator, or chewing machine, built this year.
– We’re also a part of the multidisciplinary team available for visiting scientists, Kleven adds.
Visiting scientists who come without a fully formed plan for how to conduct their experiments, may find a brainstorming session with the pair especially helpful.
For a long time Kleven was the sole toolmaker. He would do everything from calibrating and maintenance, to designing and building new instruments.
In 2018, engineer Dimitri Alkarra joined him. The pair is now working on transferring Kleven’s vast knowledge to Alkarra, while maintaining the day-to-day needs of NIOM.
– We also do work for external clients, Kleven says.
Previous clients have included companies in the oil sector, as well as the British Standards Institution and the University of Oslo.
On a side note, the pair is also helpful towards visiting scientists who may not yet have a clear idea of how to conduct their experiments.
NIOM Newsletter November 2019