Exhibitor Spotlight - Freeman Technology
In this Exhibitor Spotlight we spoke to Jamie Clayton, Operations Director at Freeman Technology (a Micromeritics company).
Jamie is Operations Director at powder characterisation company Freeman Technology, and is based at the company’s headquarters in Tewkesbury, UK.
He graduated from the University of Sheffield with a degree in Control Engineering and is responsible for all daily activities of the company, including overall management of the administration, production, R&D, sales and customer support teams. Jamie also works with the company’s clients to provide application-based support.
Which customer or market demands were the biggest drivers of your company’s growth during the past three years?
We have seen a significant increase in the number of users across a broad range of industries considering the use of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. AM involves printing often intricate components to a tight specification, so precise control of the raw materials is critical to ensure an efficient process and high product quality. However, this requirement still applies across all industries, irrespective of the specific application or unit operation. Industry is constantly striving for greater efficiency and increased output while maintaining or even improving quality. Our instrumentation helps achieve this.
Do you anticipate that those demands will continue to be your biggest growth drivers for the next three years, or are you anticipating new trends?
Absolutely. I expect the adoption of AM will only increase in the coming years. As the technology develops, application in a broader range of industries is inevitable. There is also a real focus on powder reuse – AM offers many benefits but can be inefficient if material wastage isn’t managed. Novel materials are also likely to play a major part in the future of AM, with ceramics likely to be an example of this.
What are your areas of R&D focus, and what timeline do you anticipate for bringing your next new products to market? Can you tell us anything about those products?
Freeman Technology has always invested substantially in research and development. Our in-house teams work closely with customers across a variety of industries, including ceramics, as well as with leading universities, to constantly increase our understanding of powder behaviour and in particular how this influences industrial processes. As a consequence, our products evolve to reflect market needs. Most recently we have been working on innovative research relating to environment effects such as temperature, humidity and electrostatic charge. We recently became part of the Micromeritics Instrument Corporation so now have the opportunity to incorporate additional test techniques into our research to further our understanding of particle/powder characterisation and how that relates to flow and performance.
What new trends do you anticipate and what market demands do you see evolving/changing over the next five years?
The next five years will certainly see the wider adoption of AM across different industries but also an increase in the application of the technology in mass production, as opposed to just bespoke manufacturing and rapid prototyping. Similarly, as comprehensive powder characterisation becomes routine at the development stage of many industries, the requirement for the same information at a production level increases, leading to a demand for fast, reliable at-line analysis and even in-line techniques in certain operations.
What would you say are the key challenges and opportunities currently faced by the industry?
A continuing issue across all industries is reliable and robust material specification. When working with powders, in-process performance and product quality are influenced by a vast range of material properties. Even if common properties such as particle size or shape, or bulk density, are well defined and achieved, variation in other properties can lead to problems in processing. There is a challenge in identifying and controlling the properties that dictate in-process performance and building material specifications around them. There is an opportunity therefore to develop and create new standardised test protocols that help meet this goal.
What is your company’s approach to strategic partnerships or joint ventures, and what kinds of partnerships are you most open to exploring?
Working closely with industry, academia and research consortia is fundamental to our growth and education. After nearly 20 years in powder characterisation we have great experience of different applications across varied industries, but we’re eager to expand our knowledge and there are always new technologies, novel materials and innovative approaches to learn about. We are always looking to establish new relationships with organisations experiencing powder handling challenges.
What products will you be featuring at the show this year and what response are you expecting?
We will be exhibiting the FT4 Powder Rheometer, a universal powder tester that provides a unique and comprehensive approach to characterising the flow properties of powders. We’ve had a great response to our technology at this event in previous years so we look forward to the same again, as well as the interesting and productive discussions we’ve come to associate with Ceramics Expo.
Freeman Technology will exhibit at Ceramics Expo 2019 on Booth 137