One of the aspects of my research in Takei-san's lab is grain growth of prepared sample via annealing (that is, placing the sample in an incubator). When I was previously working in the lab, we found that during annealing, grain growth caused porosit. Although the porosity did not affect our attenuation measurements, it did cause scatter in the modulus data, so is not ideal. After I left, they developed a method for keeping confining pressure on the sample while it incubated for weeks at a time. They also slowly ramp up the temperature so that the grain growth is not too rapid. The method for applying the pressure is this spring press. A spring is tightened by screwing down with an allen wrench so that it loads the piston from above. Since the sample is held in the die, it cannot deform and the stress confines the sample. It worked wonderfully.
They have a few of these prepared so that multiple samples can anneal at a time. Also, since our protocol involves making a small companion, or "baby" sample, on which we perform microstructural examinations, a small, baby press was also made. It is scaled so that its spring applies the same corresponding stress to the smaller diameter sample. Uchida-san machined that baby press while I was there so it was very fun for us. It was pretty cute. Why am I bringing this up? Well another fun thing that occurred during my trip was a birthday of a lab mate. Birthdays are a special treat because we are privileged to see some of Yamauchi-san's artwork. Below is the awesome birthday card she drew to celebrate Suzuki-san's birthday. Note the spring presses and that my baby Elenore is holding the new baby spring press.