Interview: Tom Briselden, Director of Global New Business Development, Saint-Gobain

In our latest feature, Tom Briselden, director of global new business development at Saint-Gobain, reveals the innovative platforms Saint-Gobain is currently working on, and shares his views on how the additive manufacturing landscape is changing, turning ambitions into reality.

Tom started his career at a small burner company in Wisconsin that was later acquired by Pyronics (now Selas Heat Technologies) of Cleveland. They developed the first ceramic-based radiant tube combustion systems used in the United States. Then Tom moved to the Institute of Gas Technology in Chicago, where he gained experience in fuel cells, reformers, gas turbines, and industrial furnaces.  Next was East Ohio Gas Company, where they focused on industrial operations using gas, coal, and oil. In 2000, Tom launched Spin-Works, which developed the Amasic-3D manufacturing platform that enabled them to create energy-saving products in previously impossible configurations. Spin-Works was acquired by Saint-Gobain in 2017.

Please tell us about your current role. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?

At Saint-Gobain, I am the director of global new business development; an exciting position that reaches across the commercial, operational, and research organizations. Recently, I was dubbed the ‘idea-a-minute’ person. I guess that’s pretty accurate, but right now I am laser focused on springboarding the SpyroCor product and the Amasic-3D platform using the significant resources of Saint-Gobain.

What inspired you to join/start this company? 

After working in the energy and heat industries, I knew there were opportunities to drive sustainability through efficiency gains in industrial heating applications. Spin-Works began with that spark. Rather than start with a manufacturing process and then developing a product, we began by developing optimized heat-exchange geometry and selecting the ideal materials. From there, we developed the innovative manufacturing processes required to make the idea a reality. Amasic-3D was born. Now, with the broader resources of Saint-Gobain we can expand the concept of sustainability to more energy-intensive markets and make a truly positive impact on the world’s environment.

What do you think sets your company apart from your competitors? 

Saint-Gobain is an innovative materials company that focuses on sustainability, environmental stewardship, safety, and comfort. In the ceramics and refractories division we offer the broadest scope of engineered ceramic and refractory materials, designs, and expertise for extreme environments. The addition of additive manufacturing and energy-savings components will enhance existing material platforms and expand our ability to address evolving problems for customers seeking to improve their environmental footprint and continue sustainable operations.

What are the key opportunities and challenges your company faces at present? 

In the current global climate, the rate of change for energy prices and environmental regulations can be difficult for our customers to adapt to. For us, it is most important to be flexible in our capability and to adjust to the end user’s pain points. These can be process throughput, energy consumption, emissions, or product life. Who knows what they may be next year, or even next month? The ability to rapidly address the changes with new products will help Saint-Gobain address its customers’ needs and provide good returns on investment.

Are you working on any new technology developments at the moment? Can you tell us about them? 

With the acquisition of Spin-Works’ additive manufactured advanced silicon-carbide platform, a new level of resources is being applied to expand these capabilities into new materials, temperature, and environmental ranges. Proprietary thermal components will allow designers and builders of furnaces and combustion equipment to differentiate their products in the marketplace.

What would you say most excites you about your role? 

Over the past three months I have met more than 100 of the most professional and intelligent commercial, operations, and R&D individuals of my career. It will be very exciting to make contributions to this group while absorbing new ideas and methods from them.

How do you think the industry will develop within the next five years? Can you tell us about the key trends emerging?  

Additive manufacturing is no longer a dream. It is a viable prototyping and manufacturing platform that will change the way companies view new product development. Things that could once only be envisioned, will now become reality.

What do you hope to achieve at the show next year, and what connections do you hope to make?

I want to show everyone that the sum of one plus one is greater than two; that the combination of two diverse companies, with advanced material platforms, can have a profound impact on the environment and at the same time make excellent financial sense for our customers.

Saint-Gobain High Performance Ceramics & Refractories will be exhibiting at Ceramics Expo 2018 at Booth 246.