What has been your organisation’s biggest achievement in 2018/19?
Completing our tallest ever CVD/CVI furnace for a customer in California. This has a hot zone 6m high, more than twice as tall as anything we’ve manufactured before. Entirely designed and built in the UK.
What will you be showcasing at The Advanced Materials Show?
We will be placing emphasis on the sheer diversity of materials and applications available through Chemical Vapour Deposition and how these can be applied to solve materials problems in many different industries and applications.
What technologies or materials do you specialise in?
We specialise in the process of Chemical Vapour Deposition and the associated processes Chemical Vapour Infiltration and Vapour Phase Aluminising.
If visitors should know one thing about your company and experience, what would it be?
That we can and do provide solutions to customers. We can bring literally hundreds of man-years of experience to bear on your materials problem. We can develop new coatings from scratch or adapt existing coatings to new applications. We can then take a solution all the way to production with the design and build of a production-scale coating equipment.
What might surprise people about your work and applications with advanced materials?
The sheer variety of coatings and materials that we can produce.
ATL experience at solving problems as practice diverges from theory is second to none. Can you give a recent application where this has been realised?
CVI is used to make Ceramic Matrix composites, CMCs. There are many varieties of CMC but the most common we work with is silicon carbide reinforced with silicon carbide fibres. SiC/SiC is now making its way into civilian jet engines and has huge commercial potential there but another exciting development is for nuclear fuel rods. Conventional metal clad fuel rods have to be reprocessed every 5 years or so because the cladding breaks down. SiC/SiC clad fuel rods can last 30 years.
You have worked throughout the world to solve over 300 coating challenges, covering a full range of industries, what is the most unique application you have been involved with?
A difficult question! Did you know artificial heart valves are made by CVD?
ATL is at the cutting edge of new material development. What innovations and new product applications are you currently working on?
- Tungsten/tungsten W/W Metal matrix composite for nuclear fusion.
- Carbon nanotube reinforced metals and ceramics.
- Ultra-high temperature ceramics such as zirconium boride
- Tantalum metal coatings for extreme corrosion environments.
- Iridium metal coatings for rocket motors.
You have a reputation for working with the world’s leading engineering companies. What relationship are you most proud of?
It would be invidious to pick out a single one. ATL was established in 1980 and we are proud of the fact we have maintained continuous relationships with both customers and suppliers since the ‘80s. These range from huge companies like GE in the USA to small local engineering companies just around the corner.
ATL are exhibiting at the Advanced Materials Show on stand 1210. What can visitors expect to see from your stand? What are you showcasing?
Besides being able to talk to real scientist and engineers who are enthused by what they do, check out our interactive CVD Periodic Table of the Elements. This is designed to show you the amazing range of elements and compounds that can be made by CVD and illustrate just some of the many applications.
What excites you most about the advanced materials industry? What will you be looking out for yourselves at The Advanced Materials Show 2019?
It’s great to find out about new materials and new processes. We’re always looking out for materials that could help us with the significant challenges we get in building our CVD equipment where we can be operating at very high temperatures in extremely corrosive environments.