Materials Blog
Living on your own? Sweet girl of mine, forget about it! Print E-mail
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Look mummy, look daddy, I can do it. Those first steps, those first words, riding their bike without any training wheels … those are the moments that bring tears to your eyes. But unfortunately, not all children are this blessed.

Take for example two year old Emma. She suffers from a disease, which makes it impossible for her to move her arms independently. Using a fork for the first time? Ripping up gift paper with an unseen enthusiasm? Writing a New Years letter for the first time? I can already hear a defeated parent's voice say: "We will have to help you Emma".

But all this is made possible by materials science. I can easily recall how proud she was when she managed to move her arm and … the other one as well? Full of disbelief, the experiments begin: a first line with a crayon; that first bite "Let me" – with all the mess of course; putting a sweet  in her own mouth for the very first time – the first of many; and the first pen stroke – just beautiful; and an even more beautiful moment for her parents … their first hug.

Her hero: "My magical arms".

This magic has been made possible with the help of an incredible engineer that has discovered the possibilities of modern materials science and who realised that the art of 3D printing can give powerful arms to Emma as well as wings to fully embrace life.

This story is a wonderful example of how materials can generate new possibilities and give strength, how material engineers can transform and help people realise their dreams all over the world. This is all getting to be a little too much for me … I'll let the images tell the story now …

 

 
Sense and nonsense of social media in failure analysis Print E-mail
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News flash !!!

 

The organising committee of the 5th International Conference on Engineering Failure Analysis (ICEFA 2012) accepted our abstract "Sense and Nonsense of Social Media in Failure Analysis" for presentation on ICEFA 2012, 1-4 July 2012 in THe Hague, The Netherlands.

 

Linkedin, facebook, twitter, ecademy and likewise social media have become commonplace in our modern society. Companies that are not yet active on these platforms will unavoidably run behind their competitors that have embraced social media in their marketing strategy and in their communication to customers and other stakeholders.

Also as to communication on quite technical matters, such as failure analyses of consumer goods or industrial installations, social media are gaining influence as platforms for discussion, sharing ideas and experience etc. On Linkedin alone there are several dozens of groups, closed or open to the public, that debate and stipulate on failure analysis in general, on specific types of failure or on failure of specific components in particular. Yet, what are the associated risks? Are all group participants sufficiently qualified to give an advise? If you launch a question in these groups, is it wise to assemble your own answer and plan of action based on advises that are usually quite short and sometimes even contradictory? The advises given in these groups should indeed be regarded with lots of caution. And what with the inevitable legal implications and liability issues for everyone concerned?

Whereas the influence of social media on our daily life is already studied by many authors, information on the specific influence of social media in and on technical related subjects is rather limited and seldom described by the engineers or technicians themselves. Being active on social media for several years, yet also being an experienced failure analyst and materials consultant himself, Dr. ir. Vos will present his personal view on the role social media can play in failure analysis as well as on the risks associated with the unrestrained, yet dangerous faith more and more people have that social media can also solve their daily technical problems.

 

Authors:

Dr. ir. F.J.H. Vos, Founder and General Manager Materials Consult bvba

Sam Verbeke, Attorney at law, Partner at Nelissen Grade Lawyers, Leuven (B)

 

ICEFA1000x130

 

 

 
Linkedin Groups for all your technical questions Print E-mail
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photo-online_communityI already hear many of you thinking: here they are again with these social media. Terms as facebook, twitter, Linkedin, ecademy … there is no escaping them. Many people – not at least engineers and technicians – are not so sure about this world of social media that is filled with new marketing opportunities, that makes it possible to share information in an efficient and fast way and that allows the swift and user-friendly follow-up of the distant world of your friends, suppliers and competition. It almost seems to good to be true. You have to keep up or otherwise you will be lost. Young people easily pick up the latest updates and share all kind of information. Many products become big thanks to their influence on youngsters through these social media; and also in the more industrial world being present on the social media seems to be a "must" if you want to sell to the upcoming generation and many to follow.

But it never hurts to remain sceptical. You can always share too much. Not only does it endanger the privacy of many youngsters and trendy people in their thirties or forties, not only does big brother lurks now around every corner on the virtual world map, but there is also an increasing risk that you make the wrong conclusions by listening to self-declared specialists or an excess of mostly incomplete information that can be found on the web, including all kinds of so-called specialised "groups" on the social media.

The same applies in the world of failure analysis. On Linkedin there are already many groups that advise on failure analyses in general or failure analyses of specific phenomena or products. My humble excuses to the social media gurus that like to claim that those groups may find the solution to all your problems, I would like to make some remarks, yes, maybe even warn those who think that through those groups they may find an answer to questions such as "What caused this failure?", "How high is the risk of this damage occurring again?" or "What can we do?":

  • You must realise that in those groups there are also people active that are "so-called" specialists, but that don't master the subject in a sufficient way to provide you with an answer. You must find out beforehand who you are dealing with and what their background is before qualifying the answer to your pressing question as "reliable".
  • If all answers look somewhat alike, it is only human to conclude your own answer. However, you must realise that different answers sometimes contain important nuances and since many differences make a big difference, they can also mislead you.
  • Questions that are asked in such groups rarely contain enough information to – for those who would want to answer in a responsible manner – even be considered as the first step to an answer. The only useful answer would then be additional questions like "I also need those and those facts to be able to answer your question". Pictures of your equipment, construction plans, process data and so on. Would you hand out that information? I hope not, because the zero privacy character of the social media would quickly turn your professional secrets into common knowledge for the whole group.
  • And what about your legal responsibility in using just like that amalgam of answers to deduce your own so-called truth? No, I'm not talking about copyrights, but about your responsibility in case you would proceed to conclusions and their implementation on the basis of incomplete, sometimes even incorrect, information?
  • Let along the responsibility of those who answer with an apparent cut-and-dried answer to your pressing question.

You see … you need to be cautious with those advisory groups in the social media. Before you know it, you are going down, even if you think that you are watching your steps. For certain areas these kind of groups can no doubt be a true blessing, but for fixing technical problems, I would think twice. Always consult the specialists who know what they are doing and to whom you can give all the necessary information in all confidence.

And let it be clear … the social media are not only for marketers, but the last few months also for many people a blessing. We just have to handle it with care and in all wisdom so that this blessing would not cause us here or there little or even great damage.

 

Dr. ir. Frans Vos

General Manager Materials Consult

 
Minister compares cancer research with corrosion research Print E-mail
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Feelings of revulsion and feelings of sympathy at the same time: it’s an odd mix of feelings I experienced today when I read this statement of Dr. Abdulhussain Mirza, minister of energy of the Kingdom of Bahrein. I quote:

"The medical profession and research institutes worldwide spend millions of dollars each year to find cures for diseases, most notably cancer. Humanity must devote similar efforts to cure the cancer of metals - corrosion."

I completely agree with the common feeling that it’s somehow out of proportion to make a comparison between life saving research and research on corrosion prevention, yet as an engineer I can somehow understand the minister’s statement as well. On a world scale corrosion yearly results in economic losses for a total value of many billions of euro’s. These losses are not only related to production losses, repair operations, security measures and possible environmental damage. Work accidents and the related medical and sentimental losses are at least as important. Corrosion is only the beginning of something that – in the worst case – can lead to enormous medical costs as well.

geroeste_auto_in_veldIf your imagination now slips off to industrial installations only, you clearly live off world. Imagine your car. Long time ago you would be lucky if your car body resisted corrosion for more than five to seven years. Nowadays many car manufacturers guarantee corrosion resistance for much longer periods, thanks to intensive research on improved and new corrosion protection methodologies. Without an adequate substrate preparation and superior paints our car body would much sooner fall apart. The same accounts as to the steel wheel axles underneath your car, where rupture is prevented not only by taking strength considerations into account, yet also by considering  possible corrosion risks and to develop an appropriate corrosion protection system. Indeed, car manufacturers and universities together yearly spend millions of euro’s in the fight against corrosion. To continue the reasoning of the minister in my own words: “Corrosion prevention is the preventive health care of metals, required to fight the corrosion disease and indispensible to prevent the previously mentioned consequences of corrosion from happening”.

In conclusion: despite my initially mixed feelings as to the statement of the minister, his comparison is not so bad after all. The enormous corrosion damage that is continuously created in our society and to our planet is difficult to imagine. Research on corrosion and corrosion prevention is indispensible and will remain necessary as long as metals dominate our technological society … hence forever. An increased funding of corrosion research by governments and industry is therefore not only a wish, yet essential.

 

Dr. ir. Frans Vos

General Manager Materials Consult

 

More information:

The article with the quote

Study on the cost of corrosion - World Corrosion Organisation WCO

Study on the cost of corrosion in the United States - National Association of Corrosion Engineers NACE

 
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