Bringing the world’s most advanced surface coatings to life: an interview with Bradley Pugh
Not every scientific discovery translates practically in the real world. And almost no industry can testify to this as much as the materials science industry. Scientists frequently record the success of new alloy compositions and surface coatings in lab trials, but finding suitable applications for the real world can be challenging.
Why does this happen? Not every technology is suited to commercial industrialisation. Often, equipment can prove expensive, inaccessible, or too time-consuming to scale. Knowing this, the team at Keronite follow a proven new product introduction process that ensures every coating meets customer’s commercial needs.
To find out how Keronite ensures that coatings are ready for industrialisation, we spoke to Bradley Pugh. Brad is a key figure in Keronite’s solution deployment engineering team, the group responsible for ensuring the company’s coatings are as scalable as they need to be to meet exacting customer demands.
Developing minds and world-class coatings
Brad was still completing his studies when he joined Keronite over three years ago. “I was studying engineering at college, when I had the opportunity to join as an apprentice,” Brad explained. He joined Keronite’s industrialisation team, where he put his CAD skills to use creating jigs for new components.
“Admittedly, I hadn’t heard much about Keronite or even the materials science industry before joining,” Brad conceded. Now, he works closely with the world’s leading materials scientists – keeping their discoveries in check and ensuring every coating is ready for industrial-scale deployment.
“Working among our materials scientists is a huge source of inspiration,” Brad says. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on hugely exciting projects with some of the biggest engineering companies in the world, I couldn’t have dreamed for much more, really.” Over his three years at the company, Brad has quickly become a key member of the industrialisation team, who are responsible for ensuring repeatable production, on-time delivery performance and high yields through Lean production cells.
Bringing the benefits of advanced surface coatings to every industry
“Every coating we create is made to uniquely solve a specific customer challenge through enhancing the performance of their chosen light alloys in the exact environment they wish it to operate in,” this makes the industrialisation process critical. One of the major benefits of PEO is that it provides exceptional surface coverage even for components with hugely complex surface geometries – but to achieve the highest quality coating, attention needs to be paid to being able to recreate the coating identically on every single processing run in production.
Each component provides a unique set of challenges during industrialisation. Firstly, the size and geometry of the substrate determine how many parts can be coated simultaneously within a single processing unit. “It all comes down to the jigging, as this needs to be created to allow the electrolyte to reach every part of the substrate”, Brad adds.
Secondly, the distances between components whilst they are submerged in the electrolyte bath makes a huge difference. It takes the right amount of spacing, the right number of parts and consideration paid to the strength of the electrolyte composition to provide complete coverage and boost the strength of the coating. If this is not optimised, then not only could it compromise the repeatability of the coating, but it also does not allow for the coating to be commercially efficient for both Keronite and their customers.
Brad’s major responsibility is to design the manufacturing setting for each new coating that Keronite’s materials scientists produce. The jigging is custom-made for each coating, as the differences in processing parameters, part complexity and electrolyte composition make it essential for each component to have a unique and dedicated production tooling. Brad’s work not only ensures that Keronite’s coatings are deployed at scale but meet the exacting specifications of each component and application.
Building for the future
As well as delivering Keronite coatings to brand new markets, Brad’s also part of the team dedicated to continuously improving Keronite’s production facilities. As part of the recent announcement of the opening of Keronite’s new technical centre, Brad will play a fundamental role in installing dedicated R & D equipment where Keronite’s material scientists will develop the next generation of PEO coatings.
On a personal note, Brad recently moved houses, and instead of taking the time to settle in and take in his new surroundings, Brad spent the time at Keronite’s North American PEO production facility in Indiana, United States, setting up the additional four dedicated PEO production lines to meet demand for Keronite’s new long-term manufacturing clients across several industries.
It’s an exciting time to be at Keronite
Keronite’s industrialisation team is becoming an ever-more important part of Keronite’s manufacturing business, especially as the materials science team are demonstrating PEO in a plethora of new markets, including unconventional oil & gas and space.
Brad represents an integral cog in the Keronite new product introduction process, helping take the lab-found solutions from our materials scientists into scalable, cost-effective and commercially viable solutions.
To learn more about the technology, have a look through some of our resources for materials scientists or view our surface technology page. And if you have a materials science challenge that you’re trying to solve, have you thought about putting it to our team of world-leading materials scientists?