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Washington State University
CAS Connect March 2014

The ’secret in the basement’: Tech Services Instrument Shop

Dave Savage would gladly shout it from the top of WSU’s tallest building (12-story Webster Hall): Expert machinists are working in the building’s basement creating unique and critical research equipment for customers University-wide.

“We make a lot of one-off things—things that have never been built before,” Savage said, “and a lot of people don’t know we even exist! Our machinists are the best at what they do, and they deserve the credit for the success of this shop.”

Learn more about the diverse projects and creative work of the skilled machinists in the Technical Services Instrument Shop: Listen to the audio slideshow below »

Dave Savage, Supervisor
Dave Savage,

Lauren Frei
Lauren Frei

John Rutherford
John Rutherford

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

 Steve Watson
Steve Watson

From projectiles for shock physics’ single-shot high-pressure experiments and aluminum for the sculptors in fine arts, to chemistry’s ion-mobility spectrometers and leaf sample punches for biological sciences, the machinists in Tech Services help design and then build research components, assemblies, and instruments to meet the needs of WSU researchers, primarily in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Narrators: Dave Savage, John Rutherford. Photos: Bob Hubner, Sheilah Schneider.

 Arrow sculpture by fine arts student Leah McGlothern. The arrowhead was cast using Tech Services' scrap aluminum. Arrow sculpture by fine arts student Leah McGlothern. The arrowhead was cast using Tech Services' scrap aluminum.
Arrow sculpture by fine arts student Leah McGlothern. The arrowhead was cast using Tech Services’ scrap aluminum.

Technical Services Instrument Shop

Production capabilities

  • Cutting, milling, turning and grinding a wide variety of materials including exotics such as metal-ceramic composites and high-temperature alloys
  • Sheet metal fabrication
  • TIG, MIG, and wire-feed welding of steel, stainless steel, aluminum and exotic alloys
  • Plasma cutting
  • Two, three or four-axis CNC milling (20″ X 40″ capacity)
  • CNC turning (10″ diameter X 40″ capacity)
  • Heat treatment
  • Plastics fabrication
  • Ultra-sonic cleaning

Technical Services has the capabilities and experience to manufacture and test high-vacuum chambers and ancillary equipment. They are also the major supplier of projectiles, target components, and laboratory hardware for the Institute for Shock Physics at WSU.

Examples of equipment designed, fabricated, and repaired

  • Complex stainless steel vacuum chambers and components (skimmers, motion and electrical feed-throughs, flanges, etc.)
  • Precision optical mounting components and breadboards
  • Food testing and processing devices
  • Electrophoresis apparatus
  • Teaching demonstration apparatus
  • Hydraulic and pneumatic systems and controls
  • Workbenches, instrument covers and special lab furniture
  • Electronics panels
  • Animal enclosures/mazes
  • Shipping crates
  • Instrument cases
  • Surgical devices
  • Engraved plaques & signs

Technical Services also sells materials such as metals, plastics, tubing, tube and pipe fittings, and fasteners.

Find out more about Technical Services »