Speaker Interview: Andre Prette, Technical Manager Advanced Materials and Processing, Lucideon

Andre PretteIn the first of our conference speaker interview series, we caught up with Andre Prette, Technical Manager Advanced Materials & Processing, Lucideon. Andre will be speaking on 'Flash Sintering of Model Thermal Barrier Coating Systems' on day 3, track 1 of the Ceramics Expo Conference.

Andre graduated with a Masters in Science and in Engineering with a speciality in Semiconducting Ceramics. He earned his PhD from University of Trento on “Sintering of CO2MnO4 spinel for protective coatings in SOFC”, a joint research with CU Boulder.

Currently he is Technical Manager of the Advanced Materials and Processes group at Lucideon, developing a novel sintering technology for industrial applications. He combines his materials expertise and extensive experience in flash sintering technology to develop new technologies and applications and acts as a technical translator and designer for the exploitation of Flash Sintering.

Please tell us about your role as technical manager, Advanced Materials and Processing at Lucideon. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?

As technical manager of the Advanced Materials and Processes department at Lucideon, my focus is on developing our novel sintering technology for industrial applications. Using my materials science expertise and extensive experience in flash sintering, I develop new technologies and applications while also acting as a technical translator and designer for the exploitation of this technology. My main focuses are on delivering flash sintering projects, developing new technology concepts, and researching innovative materials solutions for industry.


What excites and challenges you about your work?

Because of my background in materials science and engineering, and having spent most of my working life doing R&D and innovation in materials science and disruptive technologies, everything related to materials science is of interest! In particular, I’m interested in groundbreaking technologies that improve people’s lives and bring about massive changes in production efficiencies.

It is also very exciting to work with clients to move ideas from the brainstorming stage through to concept, feasibility, prototyping, scale-up, and implementation, right through to commercialization. We focus on developing the next generation of products; there is not much that is more exciting than that!


What are some of the key trends, challenges, and opportunities for the advanced ceramics industry at present?

Although there is a constant evolution of ceramic materials, modern ceramic industries are sometimes conservative with regards to production methods and composition. This is where an opportunity lies for those manufacturers that are looking to implement change to improve both throughput and their product performance, or using a technology to enable new products to be designed and manufactured.

 Since the beginning of the century, several different techniques have been developed to produce, shape, and sinter ceramics. Recently, spark plasma sintering and flash sintering have been utilized, as well as emerging techniques such as cold sintering. These new techniques bring new challenges and opportunities, which I believe that those involved in the advanced ceramics industry will embrace. 


In terms of industry news, what development, announcement, or otherwise stood out most to you in 2017?

Developments in flash sintering and cold sintering were, for me, the hot topics of 2017. Water-assisted flash sintering, which could further reduce sintering temperatures of ceramics, also caught my eye. Some developments that we made here at Lucideon, such as our contactless flash repair, were personal favourites, but of course I’m biased and cannot go into too many details! Let us wait (and hope) that more exciting developments will arise in 2018.


Are there any exciting projects or technologies that you are working on at the moment?

Currently, one of our flagship projects is related to increased fracture toughness of ceramics for healthcare applications, by sintering the part using flash sintering. This year will also be a big year for developments in the joining of dissimilar materials for battery (electric vehicle), energy, and aerospace applications.

Last but not least, we are currently working on projects where electric field is being applied to change conventional processes completely; using our contactless technology, we’re applying it to reduce energy and increase productivity in applications such as ceramic surface repair and spray drying. We have great engagement with industry on these developments, and indeed academia, too. With their collaboration, current opportunities look promising.


We’re looking forward to seeing you at Ceramics Expo 2018.  What are you most looking forward to at the show?

Seeing the range of attendees at the expo is very exciting.  Me and my colleagues are really looking forward to good learnings, discussion, and lectures. Cross-industry knowledge can be enlightening and very relevant to improving processes and creating new ideas and opportunities.

I’m looking forward to presenting our work and developments on flash sintering. Coupled with our involvement on the disruptive technology panel discussion, I hope we can gain good insights from the expo and make valuable contributions to it. 

Andre will be speaking on 'Flash Sintering of Model Thermal Barrier Coating Systems'  on day 3, track 1 of the Ceramics Expo Conference 2018.

Lucideon will be exhibiting at Ceramics Expo 2018 in booth 516