Hot Innovations: Exploring the Future of Aluminium Alloys with PLX-HotStage at BCAST

Published on 10 May 2024

Established in 2002, the Brunel Centre for Advanced Solidification Technology (BCAST) is a world-leading solidification research group whose focus lies on improving the sustainability of the metals market by developing more efficient metal processing techniques. Recently, following a tour of the impressive BCAST facilities, we had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Pavel Shurkin, a BCAST research fellow who utilises the PLX-HotStage as a critical tool in his investigations of aluminium alloys at high temperatures.

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“Because it’s so much quicker, I now go to PIP as a first stop for high-temperature testing rather than tensile.” Dr. Pavel Shurkin

Plastometrex (PLX): "Thank you for sitting down with us, Pavel. We are excited to learn more about your work here at BCAST and how the Plastometrex mechanical testing technology, PIP, fits in. Perhaps we could start at the beginning - What first interested you in PIP?”

Pavel Shurkin (PS): “I first became interested in PIP because it can provide really fast measurement of mechanical properties, an essential aspect of material analysis of aluminium alloys. PIP delivers very quick and reliable testing, with a highly accurate correspondence with tensile.”

PLX: “In terms of PIP products, you have access to the PLX-Benchtop, and its high-temperature module, the PLX-HotStage, which enables testing at up to 800°C. How do you use high-temperature testing in your research?”

PS: “I’m personally working with aluminium alloys. Obtaining properties at high temperatures is very important because they are mainly used in structural parts where they work under different loads but also sometimes at high temperatures. These high temperatures can weaken the properties significantly.

It’s therefore very important to improve the properties of aluminium alloys at high temperatures and PIP allows us to test these properties much quicker than a tensile test. Because it’s so much quicker, I now go to PIP as a first stop for high temperature testing rather than tensile.”

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“My favourite thing about the PLX-HotStage is its speed and accuracy.”, Dr. Pavel Shurkin

PLX: “You’ve been doing high-temperature testing with the PLX-HotStage for a little while now. Have you observed any particular benefits?”

PS: “Since I started using the PLX-HotStage, I’ve seen a lot of benefits. First of all, it’s quite compact and portable, I can do the test in the office in a nice atmosphere, and it works on very tiny samples. I don’t need to machine anything, it’s very quick and easy to use, and, despite the very high temperatures, it’s safe.”

PLX: “We are delighted to hear that you are enjoying using the system! Are there any aspects of the PLX-HotStage that particularly stand out to you?”

PS: “Yes, my favourite thing about the PLX-HotStage is its speed and accuracy. It can go to very high temperatures and offers quite a lot of flexibility. The software is also very user friendly, giving proper advice on how to prepare your sample and how to use the equipment. You don’t really need to understand the science behind it, but the software does also provide a lot of scientific background to the tests, should you want it.”

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“The PLX-HotStage is definitely able to shape the future of materials research.” Dr. Pavel Shurkin

PLX: “It’s great to see that PIP is supporting you as you work to push the boundaries in the field of aluminium alloys at high-temperatures. Do you think it could help to shape the future of the wider materials research community?”

PS: “Yes, I definitely think the PLX-HotStage is able to shape the future of materials research. It’s an innovative approach to testing which has already changed the field, even now, as I know that a lot of researchers are now using this equipment. It’s got a very good scientific basis and provides good benefits.

For us at BCAST, this device will be a very good addition to materials science and research of aluminium alloys. It’s just very easy to use and there’ll be more people at BCAST who will be using this machine in the nearest future.”

A big thank you to Dr. Shurkin for sharing his valuable insights into how the PLX-HotStage streamlines and simplifies the high-temperature testing of metallic samples. It was a pleasure to chat with him, and we’ll be watching to see the impact of his research on the metals industry.

Want to learn more about the PLX-HotStage? Click here

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