Industry Gathers in Cleveland for Ceramics Expo 2018
Hot topics at Ceramics Expo this year included ceramic matrix composites, various sintering technologies, additive manufacturing, and workforce challenges, among many others.
Attendees and exhibitors from around the world met at Ceramics Expo 2018, which was held May 1-3 in Cleveland, Ohio, to share new technologies and learn how advanced ceramics can help drive developments in a range of industries. Hot topics this year included ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), various sintering technologies, additive manufacturing, and workforce challenges, among many others.
The Conference @ Ceramics Expo opened Tuesday morning with a “Leadership Panel: Forecasting the Future of Advanced Ceramic Materials.” Panel members included Mark Wolf, vice president of the Fine Ceramics Group of Kyocera International, Inc.; Don Bray, global chief technology officer for Technical Ceramics with Morgan Advanced Materials; and William A. Cutler, division vice president and chief technology director for Environmental Technologies with Corning Inc.
Audience members were invited to submit questions for the panel using their smartphones and a special app. Questions ranged from the viability of additive manufacturing for ceramics to the current R&D environment and workforce development, and the panel enjoyed a lively discussion.
2018 Ceramic Industry Supplier of the Year
Live at the Ceramic Industry booth on Tuesday afternoon, we officially announced the winner of the 2018 Supplier of the Year Award: Source International (SI). Mike Bunge, director of Global Resources for Libbey Inc., nominated SI for the award. “SI has helped us to remove multiple barriers in our supply chain through proprietary systems that provide far greater visibility into lead times, service levels, quality levels, and pricing,” Bunge wrote in his nomination.
SI is a 30-year-old manufacturing and supply management company that, according to Jim Ullum, managing partner, has been working with Libbey for 10 years. A team of merchandisers, engineers, quality technicians and others is tasked with optimizing Libbey’s production and finished products (mainly dinnerware) in Asia.
Present to receive the award was Joe Simon, vice president of finance for SI. Also attending was Ryan Routhe, QA/materials engineer for Global Sourcing with Libbey. “We depend on [SI] to make sure that we have quality product, that we have great relationships with our suppliers, and we make sure that our customers are happy,” said Routhe. “We really enjoy working with them. We definitely are a partnership. There is a complete team with us and Source International.”
“I want to thank Libbey for nominating us, and I want to thank Ceramic Industry for this award,” said Simon. “This award is really for the people that Ryan is alluding to, who are the boots on the ground in China, in the trenches, in the factories, making sure that we have a quality product shipped on time.”
For additional details regarding the nomination process and this year’s winner, read “Supplier of the Year” in the May 2018 issue of CI. To watch the award presentation and my interview with Simon and Routhe, visit www.ceramicindustry.com/videos.
New this year at Ceramics Expo was the Industry BenchPress, which was held Thursday morning. Similar to the Leadership Panel, the event provided attendees with an opportunity to interactively participate in a panel discussion.
Moderated by Mike Alexander, vice president of Research for Allied Mineral Products, the panel included Kamal Soni, Ph.D., a research director in Corning Inc.’s Science & Technology Division, and Patrick Wilson, who serves as senior material scientist in GE Global Research’s Ceramics and Metals Laboratory. Alexander posed questions to the audience, who were invited to answer using the app. Results were shown on a large screen and then discussed by the panel.
In response to a question regarding which skill sets are needed to drive industry innovation, the majority of the 23 respondents (30%) chose data analytics. Remaining answers included: modeling, 26%; traditional processing and testing, 13% each; and CAD, 9%.
Along those same lines, 27 members of the audience responded to this query: “What role do you foresee digital and big data playing in ceramics applications?” Responses included: guidance for next-generation materials, 63%; increasing yield, 19%; improving efficiency, 15%; and limited to none, 4%. According to Wilson of GE, Big Data represents “the Holy Grail” of obtaining and understanding materials properties. Corning’s Soni remarked that embracing Big Data could enable the industry to develop new materials with enhanced properties and formulations that humans could not previously imagine.
Responses were fairly evenly split for a question regarding the biggest challenge currently facing the industry. Of the total responses (19), approximately one-third (32%) each chose: sourcing new talent/loss of expertise in retirement; funding vs. research; and processing and energy costs. Raw materials availability garnered 5% of responses, while no one in the audience opted to choose regulatory restrictions. Wilson emphasized the need to be proactive when key personnel retire. He suggested asking the person to name/explain the five most important things that they’ve learned and experienced throughout their career that should be shared with current and future employees.
Focus on New Materials
Rounding out Track 1 on Thursday afternoon was “5x5: Showcasing New Material Offerings for Application Identification.” In this session, which was moderated by Thomas Tsakalakos, distinguished professor of materials science and engineering at Rutgers School of Engineering, company representatives were allotted 5 min each to detail their companies’ materials innovations.
First up was Andreas Biegerl, head of R&D/technical service engineering for ceramics and ballistics at Nabaltec AG. In discussing Nabaltec’s Granalox® NM 9980F alumina-based ceramic bodies, Biegerl indicated that the company has developed a new milling process that reduces agglomerates in order to optimize the particle size distribution. Applications include high-strength machinery parts and LED manufacturing, among others.
Keith Rozenburg, Ph.D., senior development scientist with SCHOTT Research and Development, shared details regarding a ceramic converter for laser-pumped phosphor (LPP) light sources (launched in 2015). According to Rozenburg, SCHOTT uses modeling and monitoring to optimize the properties of the Ce:YAG ceramic phosphor, which is used in high-power digital projection applications. He also discussed ceramic windows for broadband transmission in harsh environments (expected launch in 2019). SCHOTT uses zinc sulfide (ZnS) produced through chemical vapor deposition (CVD) in order to achieve the critical optical properties of these windows.
Zirconia ribbons in thicknesses as low as 20 µm were the topic of discussion for Kevin Keefe, a ceramic engineer with ENrG Inc. The company has developed what Keefe described as the world’s first roll-to-roll ceramic substrate for applications such as printed electronics, solid-state batteries, and flexible photovoltaics, among others. Available in widths of up to 100 mm and lengths of up to 30 m, the ribbons’ specific beneficial characteristics include high-temperature capabilities, chemical inertness, the ability to act as a moisture and air barrier, and thermal shock tolerance.
The final presentation was given by Stephan Ahne, head of international sales for CeramTec GmbH, who shared details regarding damage-tolerant ceramics for medical and technical applications. The company’s HTZ500 composite oxide ceramic reportedly provides higher damage tolerance than both yttria-stabilized zirconia and alumina-toughened zirconia, by a factor of three and four, respectively.
Ceramics Expo 2019 will be held April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, Ohio. For additional information, visit www.ceramicsexpousa.com.
Visit www.ceramicindustry.com/videos to see our live videos from the show floor!
Ceramics Expo 2018 by the Numbers
- 2,904 attendees (2% increase compared to 2017 event)
- 23% of attendees from end-user companies
- 34 countries from six continents in attendance
- 64% of attendees from Ohio, New York, Michigan and Pennsylvania
- 286 exhibiting companies
- 8,433 leads generated (35% increase compared to 2017 event)