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manufacturing wastes, in particular, inventory reduction and actions addressing the cost of non-quality. As in all forms of casting, ‘yield is king’, hence process control is of paramount importance; a laser-like focus on eliminating or reducing all forms of process variation will pay big dividends. Only the strongest companies will


emerge fighting fit from the pandemic, so it’s the perfect time to invest in people skills, particularly in areas such as operational excellence, problem solving, big data analytics, digital tools/ transformation and automation.


Q A


The uptake of all-electric or hybrid propulsion systems is


gaining pace, driven primarily by in- ternational climate change agreements seeking to minimise greenhouse gas emissions and their detrimental impact on global warming. Do you view this shift, from internal combustion engines to electric/hybrid power solutions, as a threat or an opportunity for the invest- ment casting industry? Ultimately,


I see it as an opportunity. Electric or hybrid


propulsion systems require all manner of housings, heat sinks and thermal management systems, plus a wide variety of metal ‘widgets’ which are ideal candidates for investment casting. Investment casting also offers incredible design flexibility and enormous potential for lightweighting, especially when paired with 3D pattern printing technologies. Its strength lies in


its high volume, low cost, high precision capabilities. We need to be at the front of the queue when marketing our and promoting our manufacturing capabilities to the electrification industry.


In the world of aerospace gas


turbine technology, there’s no doubt that electrification is a very real threat in terms of challenging the market dominance


of small-to-medium


sized gas turbine engines (hybrid and all-electric systems are currently being developed for a wide range of applications, from EVTOLs to


single


aisle aircraft). Wide body aircraft pose a much bigger electrification


®


challenge, particularly given the huge power density requirements to power such large aircraft. For this reason, it’s likely that gas turbine engines will continue to be the propulsion system of choice for wide body aircraft for many years to come. That said, the investment casting industry faces many challenges in keeping pace with evermore complex turbine component designs – an inevitable consequence of the engine OEMs´ relentless drive for increased fuel efficiency. Engine cores are shrinking; gas turbine blades are becoming more miniaturised, which is particularly challenging in the HP & IP stages of the engine where SX components dominate. It’s also likely that we’ll see some SX turbine components replaced by CMCs (Ceramic Matrix Composites), but this could be offset by new investment casting applications elsewhere in the engine, particularly where current materials and manufacturing methods


can no longer keep pace with rising temperature demands. Investment casting has a proud


6000-year history. It never ceases to amaze me how this ancient process continues to evolve to meet the demands of the future. One thing’s for sure … there’s life in the old dog yet!


Q A


What do you think you’ll miss the most now that you’ve


retired?


Over the years, I’ve worked on some incredible technologies,


but more than that, I’m going to miss working with the many talented, generous and friendly people that I’ve encountered in my career. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them all. There’s a strong sense of community in this industry and I’d still like to stay connected and to be part of it, perhaps as an ‘Alumni’ of the EICF.


December 2020 ❘ 17


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