Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/221

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work in Pittsburgh under the old organization formed a part of the technological division of the survey.

The engineering division is performing an important service for the government in testing all cement made by the Atlas Cement Company for the Panama Canal. The company furnishes cement at the rate of 6,000 barrels a day. Inspectors are stationed at the works, and the bureau maintains there a well-equipped laboratory.

The testing of all paper purchased for the Government Printing Office falls within this division, in cooperation with the division of chemistry. Formerly bids were received on specifications, the lowest bid was accepted, and then the successful bidder proceeded to furnish the cheapest paper he could get accepted without further regard to the specifications. The results were that the best paper manufacturers refused to bid because they could not afford to sacrifice their reputation, and the government was defrauded. On one occasion the award for paper for the Bulletin of the bureau was made on specifications calling for paper of definite weight and half rags. When the paper had been made and submitted to the Printing Office, the analysis of the bureau showed that it contained no rags whatever, but only wood pulp.

At present print papers are bought on rigid specifications, and samples of all shipments are analyzed at the bureau. The fraud perpetrated on the government in the matter of print paper of all grades has now been eliminated.

Printing inks are purchased at present in the same manner, and the assistance of the bureau has saved the government in this particular item enough to cover about half the cost of the inks. The same system has stopped the graft by commissions once practised in the Bureau of Engraving and Printing by a trusted foreman. The price was very high on account of the generous commission allowed the foreman. Preferences for a particular make of ink or other commodity must now be supported by something more than the dictum of an old employee.

The engineering division does not confine its activities to the direct service of the government. Its aim is also to furnish scientific and physical data which lie at the foundation of engineering practise and design. It is now engaged in the actual measurement of the stresses producing compressions and elongations in the steel members of bridges and other structures after erection, as compared with those calculated by the designers. The results of such a comparison should be of eminent service to engineers and makers of structural steel, as well as to the government in the design and construction of its battleships. The largest testing machine, now in process of erection at the bureau at a cost of $150,000, is to be a marvel of precision. It will apply a maximum force of compression of 2,300,000 pounds, and will measure it with an accuracy of two pounds.

This brief survey of the activities of the Bureau of Standards is