Exhibitor Spotlight: Lucideon
Ceramics Expo caught up with Andrew Perry at Lucideon to discuss the company's latest technological developments and plans for the future.
Before joining Lucideon, Andy was at Ideal Standard for 28 years, the last 10 of those as the Technical Leader for CZK, Bulgaria and the UK. Within that role, the key areas covered ranged from assisting the plants with daily yield- and volume-related issues, cost reduction and efficiency project improvements through to material and product developments. Ideal Standard has used a number of ‘tools’ to improve productivity and reduce waste in the business over the years, from Six Sigma (Andy trained as a Six Sigma Black Belt) through to the latest lean manufacturing techniques. Andy generally worked with the plants where technical challenges were causing issues. He was also involved in the development of new process lines.
Please tell us about your current role. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?
My role at Lucideon includes helping clients improve process control at every step of the process from raw material to finished product, with a view to reducing processing costs and improving efficiencies.
What do you think sets your company apart from your competitors?
We started off as the British Ceramics Research Association 70 years ago, so there’s not a lot we don’t know about ceramics. We’ve worked across many industries including traditional and technical ceramics, across sectors such as aerospace, medical, automotive, energy and industrial components. That experience has allowed us to transfer knowledge and technologies from one sector to another. We are very much a consultancy, helping our clients find solutions to their materials, products and process challenges. We’re backed up by a wide range of analytical capabilities and we have our own feasibility and pilot plant facilities. Finally, we have a focus on developing the disruptive technologies of the future; technologies that will allow our clients to have a competitive advantage.
What are the key opportunities and challenges your company faces at present?
An exciting development is the proposed Ceramic Park in Stoke-on-Trent, UK, which we’re supporting. If it goes ahead, we will relocate there, expanding in space and facilities and also in employees (potentially doubling our workforce). The park will house AMRICC (the Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company), which will offer pilot-scale facilities and degree apprenticeships in materials, and the NASC (National Advanced Sintering Centre), both of which we are heavily supporting. It will be a center for advanced and traditional ceramics, working with clients around the world.
Are there any new technology developments that you are working on at the moment? Can you tell us about them?
- Rheology developments – we’ve worked with a number of manufacturers to characterize their casting slip, developing tailor-made testing regimes that have been implemented in the factory to optimize yields and stabilize production lines
- Cast texture – a new test has been created to measure the cast texture of a formed piece, allowing numeric values to be attributed to the piece, which can then be related to casting and rheological parameters to fine tune the final output (enabling body development and process optimization)
- Drying – by monitoring the critical parameters of a formed piece through various drying processes, from vacuum and RO2 through to conventional drying, we have been able to better understand where drying times have to be extended or reduced in order to reduce the stresses within the piece and optimize yields
- Post-firing decoration – we are working with a number of companies who are looking to add value to products by adding an additional color or effect to an existing piece – watch this space!
How do you think the industry will develop within the next five years? Can you tell us about the key trends emerging?
Process stability remains one of the key challenges faced by the industry; the developments going forward will focus on making processes more tolerant by improving the control systems and the understanding of the key variables and their effects. This then allows more flexibility in terms of mold changes and reactions to market demand. More demanding styles and shapes and the ability to add different surface finishes and glaze effects without the need to re-fire is an interesting area at the moment.
You recently exhibited at Ceramics Expo. How was your experience at the show?
We had a fantastic time at the show, meeting new and existing clients. It was a great opportunity to showcase our flash sintering technology that allows ceramics to be sintered at reduced temperatures and times, as well as allowing materials with new properties, such as toughened ceramics, to be developed.
Lucideon Limited will be exhibiting at Ceramics Expo 2019 in Booth 516