Future Technologies, Applications and Opportunities for Light Metals - event report

Light Metals Division
2 Apr 2007

A highly successful meeting, jointly organised by the Institute’s Light Metals Division and Midlands Regional Committee, was held at Loughborough on February 7th 2007. A diverse programme of high-profile speakers from both academia and industry, complemented by a highly competitive poster session, served to illustrate some of the latest developments in Aluminium, Magnesium and Titanium technologies being pioneered today.

During his opening address, Dr Mike Clinch (Luxfer Gas Cylinders, Light Metals Division and President of East Midlands Materials Society) sought to highlight the increasing importance of Light Metals within key sectors such as transportation, packaging and construction, and encouraged the audience to be ready to “embrace change” by way of introduction to the technical programme.

Geoff Scamans of Innoval Technology kicked off the first session with his enlightening vision of “Aluminium – From Cans to Cars,” and in doing so introduced a number of themes relating to sustainable and responsible manufacturing which recurred throughout the day.

Professor Zhongyun Fan from the Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST) then went on to present results from his research on “Novel Rheoforming Techniques for Magnesium Alloys,” a group of remarkable liquid metal processes which are set to pave the way for greatly increased use of the lightest of the light metals.

Dave Rugg of Rolls Royce Plc gave an insight on “Recent Advances in Deformation and Fatigue Mechanisms in Titanium Alloys,” including ways in which micro-mechanical models are being used to improve mechanical performance in demanding aeronautical power applications.

The final lecture of the first session saw Alison Davenport exhibit some stunning microstructural characterisation techniques that are being used at the University of Birmingham to investigate “Corrosion Performance of Welded Aluminium Structures.”

The second session was chaired by Gary Critchlow, and commenced with a talk from his Loughborough University colleague Rebecca Higginson on “Microstructure of Al2O3-Al-Mg Interpenetrating Composites,” which are being developed for their combination of light weight and superior wear resistance.

Tim Wilks of Magnesium Elektron Ltd in his lecture “New Developments in Magnesium Alloys,” described the latest generation of mechanical properties and applications for the metal; destroying many age-old misconceptions and myths along the way.

In the next presentation, Andrew Fenn of Metalysis Ltd focused on “Exploiting the FFC Cambridge Process for Titanium Production” and included news of a new joint venture for the company which is expected to increase its titanium output and productivity.

The session concluded with an overview of “Innovative Manufacturing Techniques for Light Alloys”, in which Gordon Smith of the University of Warwick brought together many of the themes which had been developed during the day, whilst highlighting some of the pioneering work conducted by his Advanced Manufacturing Group over the years.

A well-earned break gave delegates the opportunity to view the excellent poster contributions over their buffet and wine, and also admire the shiny red Jaguar XK which had been parked outside the theatre ahead of the evening’s public lecture.

Prizes were awarded to Abdulhamied Twier of the University of Manchester for his poster on “Microstructure / Property Relationships in a High Strength Wrought Magnesium Alloy, Elektron 675”, with Eleanor Merson of Leeds University receiving runner-up for her entry “Microtexture in Titanium Alloy Welds.”

The day was rounded off in superb style by the 2006 World Lecture Competition winner, Andrew Tarpey of Jaguar Cars Ltd, with his detailed yet highly entertaining lecture “The 267 Piece Jigsaw – Body Structure of the New Jaguar XK.” Following his presentation, and the resultant barrage of questions from an inquisitive audience, Andrew invited delegates to take a closer look at the XK before setting off into the frosty February night.

All in all the day was a great success, thanks largely to the excellent range of speakers, an enthusiastic audience and financial support from Industrial Sponsors (Alcoa, Innoval Technology, Luxfer Gas Cylinders and Rolls Royce). Plans are already in place to stage a similar event in the North West region, while future locations could include the South of England.

For further information please contact the Light Metals Division.