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PowderMet — Transforming value chains from the nanostructure up

December 21, 2015

Nano particles

SME Profile

When describing his company, PowderMet Founder Andy Sherman was very clear about its mission.

“Our focus is to use material science to enable solutions that transform current value chains,” Sherman said. “We look at ways to reduce costs for our clients and their customers, and the best way to do that is through fuel savings and thereby lightweighting. If we reduce life cycle costs at least two to three times the total cost of the solution, then we have done our job.”

Headquartered in Euclid, Ohio, PowderMet, has been doing its job since 1996 as a nationally recognized nanotechnology and advanced materials research and development organization. With more than 40 employees, PowderMet has an extensive proprietary technology base and application data in materials compositions, structures, and manufacturing processes incorporating nano-scale and submicron features into engineering materials through powder metallurgy, casting, and ceramic processing techniques.

Historically, PowderMet worked primarily with clients in energy, aerospace and particularly defense, Sherman said. At one point about 80 percent of its business was with the U.S. Department of Defense. But as the company has grown and branched out, 80 percent of its customer base is now with a variety of clients in the construction, metals, and energy industries and there is less reliance on aerospace and defense work. “We work with a number of large clients that outsource certain development and manufacturing functions incorporating nano-engineered features,” Sherman said.

Its collective core expertise is in materials micro/nanostructure design and scalable manufacturing. The base approach has been the application of process engineering to incorporate nano-engineered features into “repeating structural units” consisting of highly engineered powders. The particles are engineered at multiple levels, and are formed directly into parts, applied as coatings, or incorporated into polymer, metal, or ceramic matrices to enable unique properties to be achieved, such as strength, energy absorption, controlled thermal expansion, wear resistance, or energy storage.

PowderMet’s most recent launch, Terves Inc. (Terves means “to plan”, or “to engineer” in Hungarian), is focused on highly engineered magnesium alloys, and is the result of over a decade of investigation into magnesium metal matrix composites that led to breakthrough performance in the energy sector.

“As a company we’re focused on making materials do more – strength, stiffness, added performance, etc. We believe structural materials should serve more than one function. We work with partners to introduce these advances to transform or clients value chains, creating tremendous value for our clients and their customers,” said Sherman.

PowderMet and its subsidiaries and spin-outs also have an extensive materials science network and a variety of collaborative relationships and licenses with leading research institutions such as Case Western Reserve, Penn State University, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, NASA Glenn Research Center, The University of Akron, the Ohio Aerospace Institute, and governmental materials sciences groups such as the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force.

As an SME member of the LIFT consortium, Sherman hopes to let other stakeholders know about available nanocomposite technology while collaborating on projects where PowderMet and its subsidiaries and licensees provide a unique fit and capability.

“We’re particularly interested in collaborating with OEM’s and end users who are LIFT members,” Sherman said. “Many LIFT members are not what we would consider our traditional customer base, but we do want to explore additional vertical markets that can take advantage of nano-engineered light materials outside of the metal processing and energy sectors we primarily served today.”

For more information about PowderMet, visit www.powdermetinc.com.