Alan Davidson, a lecturer in materials engineering at Napier has been selected to work with Kanthal’s product development manager Stan Moug on trials into the bend strength of recently developed materials - which are designed to combine improved performance with cost effectiveness and competitive edge.
Davidson explains that the industrial users of silicon carbide heating elements increasingly want improved mechanical properties and element life performance to allied low cost manufacture.
Key to delivering the demands of manufacturers is the bend strength and bend modulus of the elements and Kanthal, part of the multi-national Sandvik Group, has turned to Napier to add to Kanthal’s in-house testing capabilities.
“The bend strength and modulus of these elements – allied to cost-effective manufacturing routes - are key selling points for manufacturers when it comes to competition in the international marketplace” explains Davidson.
“It’s vital that such strength is accurately measured through the kind of highly calibrated materials testing and characterisation that Napier can provide.”
Around 300 silicon carbide rods have so far been tested and both Mr Davidson and Mr Moug are highly encouraged by the results which are prompting Kanthal to carry out further research into their manufacturing and development processes.
Napier was introduced to Kanthal after the firm initially contacted Scottish Enterprise Tayside who, in turn, put them in touch with Interface – The knowledge connection for business, which offers a free matchmaking service, providing businesses with information about the specialist expertise, skills and research facilities available in all Scottish universities and research institutes.
Moug says that bend strength is not just important to the manufacturing process of the heating elements - they also need to be up to the rigours involved in transportation of the product. He added that elements can be anything between 1.0 and 6 metres long. “Therefore, we have to be in a position to offer products that withstand the rigours of transportation and reach our customers in one piece”.
“Our industry is continually evolving and we need to look at ways of keeping ahead of our competition. Working with Napier University, with the help of Interface, has been a very worthwhile exercise and the collaborative partnership we now have with Alan Davidson is proving very successful.”