Obituary – Dr Arthur Brace CEng FIMMM

Fellows' Lounge
18 May 2017

Dr Arthur William Brace CEng FIMMM, 1923-2017

A native of Bristol, Arthur Brace entered the aircraft industry at the age of 16 as a metallurgical assistant. Some years later he joined the Aluminium Development Association where he was responsible for a range of projects. He subsequently moved to the Research Laboratories of Alcan Aluminium in Banbury, initially as Head of Metal Finishing Research and Development and later Head of Chemistry Division. During this period he built up a team which gained a high reputation and later became a recognized centre of excellence for anodizing research.

After a period as an anodizing plant manager, Arthur established himself as a professional consultant. His consulting activities were worldwide and saw him undertaking numerous assignments involving aluminium finishing in the Arabian Gulf, Australia, Europe, the Far East and the USA. On several occasions, he served as an aluminium expert for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. He provided expertise for the Argentine Government in planning a series of downstream enterprises to utilise the aluminium produced from the Puerto Madryn reduction plant. These projects were later successfully implemented. He advised the Government of China on the expertise needed to establish a training establishment for the manufacture of aluminium windows in the 1970s. This led to the  setting up of manufacturing plants which are still operating successfully today. He was also adviser to the Government of Iran on the possible future development of its aluminium industry.

Dr Brace was also in demand internationally as a lecturer. He published numerous papers in his areas of expertise and was author of three books: “Anodic Coating Defects”, “The Technology of Anodizing Aluminium” and “Hard Anodizing of Aluminium”.

He was a strong believer in lifelong learning. He had left school at sixteen as his parents could not afford for him to continue his education full time but he continued to study part-time, receiving the City and Guilds Insignia Award and later an Honours Degree in Economics at the London School of Economics. At the age of 72 he was awarded a PhD in Engineering at Aston University and a Doctor of Science degree at the age of 89, also at Aston, in recognition of his lifetime’s work. He was a Chartered Professional Engineer and Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Institute of Metal Finishing.

For some years Dr Brace was Chairman of the Management Committee of the City and Guilds Insignia Awards Association. He was part of a small team that drafted the structure of the new City and Guilds Senior Awards. For this contribution he was awarded the Association’s Gold Medal and became an Honorary Member of the City and Guilds of London Institute.

Dr Brace received numerous accolades in recognition of his achievements. In the United States he was given the highest award of the American Electroplaters and Metal Finishers Society, being designated a Fellow. He also received from the same Society the Sam Wyman Memorial Award and a special award in recognition of his contributions to the work of the Light Metals Committee. He was also a recipient of the Robert L Kersman Award of the Aluminum Anodizers Council. In the UK he received the Hothersall Memorial Medal and the Jim Kape Memorial Medal of the Institute of Materials Finishing.

Dr Brace was one of the founders of the International Hard Anodizing Association and a member of a small group which planned the setting up of the Aluminum Anodizers Council in the USA. A member of the Light Metals Committee of the American Electroplaters and Surface Finishers Society, he also served as President of its International Branch. He served two periods on the Council of the Institute of Materials Finishing and as Chairman of its Anodizing Group.

Although nominally retired at the age of 70, Dr Brace continued to study and work part-time, chairing professional conferences and appearing as a guest speaker. His last significant professional contribution was a paper questioning the established theories of anodizing. Further work on this he left to his successors.

He was described by colleagues as a pioneer, a great mentor and a friend. To his family he was an example of what determination and hard work can achieve. He was an inspiration to all and he will always be remembered for his enthusiasm and lifelong curiosity.

He is survived by his wife Marion, his sons Geoffrey and Michael, eight of his nine grandchildren and eighteen great grandchildren.

Geoff Brace