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The Epoxy Mixing Mix-up

The Epoxy Mixing Mix-up
Epoxy resin batches were a little off target. Workers were rotated and the problem disappeared. Were employee causing this problem?
Mysteries of Science


A small company manufactured coatings, sealants and adhesives for the electronics industry. The resin mixing room was an unpopular place to work because of the temperature, which was kept between 100 and 105 degrees F.

The company had recently hired a new employee to work in the resin mixing room. He never complained about the uncomfortable working conditions and was always cheerful. However; soon the epoxy resin batches were a little off target and had to be reworked in some cases.

Reviewing the batch records and off spec product showed no correlation and the ingredients were all correct.  When the owner experimented by rotating workers the problem immediately disappeared, but then reappeared again two days later.

The owner was able to pinpoint this cheerful new employee as the problem.

What was the employee doing that was causing the problem with the epoxy resin batch?

Here's the rest of the story.

The shift supervisor observed the new employee while he was mixing.  The two chatted while the work was being performed.  The new employee had been a star performer at Starbucks, his last job. He was adding the final ingredient to the batch and mentioned that he never forgot to add one extra scoop of coffee at Starbucks to make his coffee the best. Just then he added one extra scoop of resin catalyst, one for the pot, just like with coffee.

 The well meaning worker with no knowledge of chemistry had been adding to much catalyst.  One for the pot was not good here, where precision is the rule.


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