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  • 1.  Materials experts

    Posted 03-23-2023 09:53

    Are there enough materials experts being educated to handle the need in classical fields, like producing iron and steel ingots, casting, forging, hot rolling, welding (including friction and flash-butt welding) and failure analysis of mechanical systems?  I'm not seeing enough of these people coming through the educational system as there is so much focus on nano-materials, additive manufacturing and such.

    David Toler
    Engineering Consultant
    Forensic Engineering Sciences Inc.
    Easton PA
    (610) 554-2152
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  • 2.  RE: Materials experts

    Posted 03-24-2023 07:35

    David, this is a common situation all over the world. In every country, the "publish or perish" rule pushes university teaching personnel to abandon classical metallurgy and devote attention to nanomaterials, additive manufacturing, etc. What involves offering PhD positions for the same topics. Classical metallurgy classes are then being dropped from the curriculum offered to undergraduate and graduate students. How many courses are offered in Western countries universities on extractive metallurgy thermodynamics? Less and less as old professors retire and none of the new ones masters the discipline.

    Industry has to have their voices heard to counteract the current trend in course offering. After a few years, the situation will reverse, unless AI occupies all the teaching space in advanced learning.

    Donato FIRRAO FASM
    Politecnico di Torino

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  • 3.  RE: Materials experts

    Posted 03-25-2023 11:14
    Professor Firrao, you are on the right track, but I would have framed the answer more in terms of funding. Nanomaterials, additive manufacturing, and high entropy alloys get most of the government funding. Meanwhile, metal manufacturing firms are cutting costs, including R&D and university support. Then these same companies can't find people with the training they want, so they hire anyone with any sort of technical background and retrain them (on the job) to do the job that needs to be done. 

    John Grubb

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  • 4.  RE: Materials experts

    Posted 03-27-2023 10:25

    Given my experience in this field, all materials and processes have some limitations, and it depends on applications and commercial viability. The classical metallurgy science will not go away anytime soon. Steel is the only material which has verity of applications (dual phase alloy), it is cheaper and now a days all mills are producing 100% recycle steel with cleaner steel making process.

    Additive manufacturing is not the answer for all applications. I have not worked in the field yet, but I worked in PM industry in the start of my carrier. Keeping the place metal dust free is a challenge. I left the field because of breathing metal dust in the plant, from reading and reviewing AM process, it is very closed to PM part making process and achieving full density of the part is a challenge in traditional PM manufacturing process.

    As a materials expert, we have to decide which process will be suitable for which application.

    Sanjay Kulkarni
    Materials Engineer
    2040 Crooks RD, Suite A
    Troy, MI 48084
    Cell: 248-840-1056

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  • 5.  RE: Materials experts

    Posted 03-24-2023 09:14
    In my humble opinion, the training in "classical" fields of metallurgy and materials engineering has greatly diminished. I believe this is partly due to the following factor:

    1. Lack of funding from the government and private industry. As a result, the teachers in these fields are not replaced and curriculum dies a slow death. We have seen this field of teaching eliminated from a number of teaching institutions.
    2. Lack of interest from new students. Students gravitate towards areas that they are exposed to. CAD, CAM, 3-D modelling, additive manufacturing steal the attention. How many materials students can tell you how the steel is made or refined?
    3. Inadequate exposure of the importance of "classical" science by the Industry Press. One finds  very few articles with in-depth analysis of a subject matter in popular magazines or online. Most of the coverage is devoted to flashy subjects with, mostly inadequate scientific coverage.
    4. Lack of demand from industry. As manufacturing has moved overseas, this field is being taught and researched in countries like India, China, Taiwan and Japan. I recall rooms full of people interested in China, Japan and Taiwan coming to listen to lectures on "classical" materials science. It is not surprising that these countries now dominate areas such as free-machining steels, wire rods, steel castings, die casting, plating etc.


    Ratnesh Dwivedi, PH.D

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