SECAT Newsletter, Vol. 10, Issue 2

Aluminum WrapUp
Volume 10, Issue 2
May 2022 – Summer Issue
Secat Helps Student with Middle School Science Fair Project
Nathan Nanninga, son of Secat Technical Director Nick Nanninga and wife Ashley Nanninga, made it to the Kentucky State Science Fair this past spring. Nathan’s project “Physics of MagLev Cars” used copper coils that were turned on Secat’s new CNC lathe. The project investigated the effects of coil spacing on the strength of the electromagnetic field created by the coil and the battery/magnet assembly that was placed inside the coil.
Nathan is a 6th grade student at Beaumont Middle School in Lexington, KY. His project won 1st place in the 6th grade Physics Division at his school Science Fair and at the Regional Science Fair. He received honorable mention at the Kentucky State Science Fair. Next year Nathan plans to explore how other parameters affect the electromagnetic field, such as the voltage of the battery, the strength of the magnet, and the diameter of the copper wire used to make the coil. He may even try an aluminum coil.
Secat’s machine shop expert, Randall Bowers, set-up the lathe for turning the coils.
We had a great time at ET ‘22!
We hope you were able to stop by and check out the latest from Secat at the International Aluminum Extrusion Technology Seminar and Exposition, May 3 – 5 in Orlando.
If you missed us at ET ’22, you can learn more about us on Secat’s website here.
What’s New in Training
In 2022, Secat will continue to offer a variety of training opportunities with virtual and in person options.
Our next training will he held May 24-26. It’s a VIRTUAL class. Rotary Furnace Operations – Practice Details & Material Recoveries. You can learn more by CLICKING HERE.
Check out the schedule on our website
Visit us at and check out all that we have to offer!
Secat Supports Undergraduate Curriculum at University of Kentucky
In the Spring 2022 semester, Secat assisted in developing and supporting a laboratory exercise for the University of Kentucky’s Metal Processing course (MSE 538). The course focuses on the casting, solidification, and deformation processing of industrial metals. The course is taught by Professor Paul Rottmann (Former Secat Scholarship Recipient).
Secat helped Professor Paul Rottmann develop a lab module for the course that concentrated on manufacturing of aluminum can sheet from alloy AA3104. This included casting and rolling of a laboratory scale ingot. Secat’s Tony Petters worked with UK Teaching Assistant Connor Varney to complete the task of casting the ingot. Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, the demonstrations had to be recorded and shown to the students.
The alloy was melted with the help of UK’s Institute of Sustainable Manufacturing (ISM), using a furnace in Professor Sekulic’s lab. A copper book mold, that was developed by Secat for an internally funded alloy development project, was used to cast the ingot. The target composition of the ingot was (in wt. %): Si: 0.2, Fe: 0.5, Cu: 0.15, Mn: 0.9, and Mg: 1.1.
In addition to casting the ingot, Secat also verified the chemical composition of the ingot using our optical emission spectrometer. The results of the analysis are provided below. Tony did a good job of hitting the targets!
After casting, the ingot was homogenized, rolled, and tested for hardness after different cold roll reductions at the University of Kentucky. The microstructure was observed at different stages of the process so that the students could develop a deeper understanding of the processing-microstructure-properties relationships of metals.
Kentucky is a leading producer of aluminum, particularly aluminum used to manufacture beverage cans. Adding this module to the curriculum at the University of Kentucky will help prepare engineers for future careers in aluminum manufacturing.
Person of Interest
Paul F. Rottman – Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Kentucky
Paul F. Rottman began as a student at the University of Kentucky, receiving his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in May 2010. He proceeded to Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD where he received an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in March 2012 and a Ph. D. in May 2017.
Paul was a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in the Materials Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 2017 – 2019. He returned to the University of Kentucky in 2019.
Give us a quick overview of your job/research.
I am an assistant professor of materials engineering at the University of Kentucky. My research background and current scope of active projects focus on the mechanical and microstructural characterization of metals. The range of metals I study is diverse, ranging from sputter deposited high entropy alloys to additively manufactured superalloys, but I approach problems with the diverse suite of characterization tools we’ve put together in my lab and available in shared facilities at UK. I also teach various courses in our Materials Engineering curriculum each semester.
What are some things that happen for you in a typical day at work?
Each day is typically a blend of my teaching and research responsibilities. Currently I teach a Materials Lab course to our 2nd year students in the fall and a Metals Processing course (mostly to graduating seniors) in the spring. During a semester I’ll typically spend some time each morning preparing or giving a lecture, grading assignments, or meeting with students. Most of my time on the research side is spent on reading, writing, and in meetings. Working in the field of additive manufacturing and high entropy alloys, there is a constant flood of new studies and journal articles each week—staying up to date with current research is both necessary and time-intensive! Most days I’ll meet with a graduate student or research collaborator to discuss recent progress and results. Being surrounded by such motivated and talented students, every day is different and brings with it new and exciting challenges!
How does your job/research impact the aluminum industry? How does your teaching/research impact your students?
This is an incredibly exciting time to work with and research metals. When I teach students and discuss potential career paths with them, I strive to dispel the thought that metals is a mature (i.e. boring) industry in comparison with other fields of materials. There are many challenges and interesting problems to the metals community waiting to be met with a fresh perspective from the next generation of engineers that are equipped with numerous experimental and computational tools that have been developed in the last few decades.
A main focus of my research is the characterization of additively manufactured alloys. Driven by the numerous benefits that are promised by additive manufacturing, we must better understand and, ideally, control the microstructures and properties of additive parts. This is especially true for alloys whose properties are strongly contingent on the controlled precipitation and distribution of phases and defect throughout the microstructure, as is the case for many aluminum alloys. My research group combines mechanical testing and electron microscopy with a foundational understanding of metallurgical phenomena to approach these problems.
How do you interact with Secat, Inc. and how does the relationship benefit you?
The University of Kentucky resides right in the heart of a region in which metals processing and fabrication has a history that stretches far into the past. There are numerous companies that exemplify that history by being on the forefront of the metals industry. I arrived as an assistant professor to UK aware of that history but without the knowledge of how I can link with the existing regional expertise in metals, learn from industrial partners, and ideally contribute something from my experience in researching metals. Secat, Inc. has provided critical assistance in this endeavor, since they act as a nexus that draws the vast network of the regional aluminum industry in and connects them directly to the research infrastructure at UK so that I can learn from and engage with industrial partners directly.
Furthermore, Secat, Inc. has demonstrated a strong desire to invest in the education of materials engineers at UK. For the Metals Processing course that I teach, they worked with me and provided the material and intellectual support to cast a AA3104 ingot for the students to investigate. They were excited by the opportunity to directly observe some of the concepts taught about in lecture, and I am appreciative of Secat, Inc. for making that possible.
Tell us something about yourself that people may not know.
My family has a great love for the outdoors and nature. During my time as a postdoc at UC, Santa Barbara my wife and I would take every opportunity we could to explore the national parks that were in driving distance, often toting along our infant daughter along for the hikes. Now our kids are in the “too big to carry, too small to hike long distances” stage at 1 and 3 years old, but that doesn’t keep us from puttering around the many local parks and trails throughout central Kentucky.
Teaching Aluminum Metallurgy to the Next Generation of Metallurgists
The demand for aluminum is expected to grow in the coming years due to increased use in automotive applications and in food and beverage packing. However, options for university courses focused on aluminum metallurgy simply do not exist anymore. The limited curriculum at colleges and universities is associated with low enrollment levels in highly specific elective courses. Courses with less than a handful of students can become too financially burdensome for universities to offer.
Secat is working toward bridging this gap in education by exploring a new approach. We would like to coordinate a virtual course that could be listed as an elective at several different universities. The course would be taught by a Secat employee working as an adjunct professor. University professors at participating institutions would act as guest lecturers. Having a shared course across different universities would ensure that enrollment would remain high, without putting the financial burdens onto one college or university.  
To explore this concept and determine the interest level of key professors, Secat has reached out to several universities that have strong metallurgy programs. Faculty have responded positively. However, before moving forward we want to make sure this course will add value to our constituents. Please let us know if your company would benefit from having entry level engineers that are trained in aluminum metallurgy ( 
Tech Talk
Characterization and Thermal Faceting of Tungsten (W) Nanoparticles Generated by Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) Method
Huanhuan Bai (PhD student, Materials Science and Engineering, University of Kentucky,, 
Advisor: Dr. John Balk (Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies, and Director of Electron Microscopy Center, University of Kentucky, )
Huanhuan “Hannah” Bai is currently in the final year of her PhD studies. In addition to working on her Dissertation, she is working at Secat part-time. This Tech-Talk is focused on the work Hannah is conducting for her PhD.
Nano scale tungsten (W) has various medical and industrial applications and has attracted attention from academia for decades. Hannah’s PhD research includes fundamental studies of nano scale tungsten generated by Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD).
Physical Vapor Deposition is one of the most common techniques used to generate nano scale metal materials. To fabricate tungsten nano particles, a custom-built nanoparticle generator (Figure 1) was used during PVD coating of a Silicon wafer, Sapphire (Al2O3), or Copper foil substrate. The source target was 99.95% pure tungsten, with diameter of 38.1 mm (1.50 inch) and thickness of 3.18 mm (0.125 inch).
Figure 1 shows a schematic and picture of the nanoparticle generator used for deposition. The main parameters that influence nanoparticle size are aggregation length (distance between sputter target and nozzle plate) and the ratio of pressures between the two chambers. Deposition was performed at ambient temperature with a base pressure before deposition of 10-7 Torr. During deposition, the pressures in the condensation chamber and deposition chamber were 0.9 Torr and 10-3 Torr, respectively, using argon as the process gas. Sputtering power of 125 W was applied for 40 min. The aggregation length was 15 cm.
Once the fabrication procedure is completed, sample morphology and composition were examined with advanced characterization techniques at the University of Kentucky’s Electron Microscopy Center (EMC). Analysis techniques included: Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy (FIB-SEM), x-ray Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM). Figure 2 shows TEM results of deposited nano scale tungsten.
Heating experiments were performed on the samples that exhibited the desired thickness and structure. The heating experiments were operated in a Quanta SEM chamber and in a custom-built Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) Chamber.
During heating, nano scale tungsten (W) reacts with oxygen (O2) as following:
W(s) + O2(g) ↔ WO2 (s) (1)
WO2 (s) + ½ O2(g) ↔ WO3 (s) (2)
3WO3 (s) ↔ (WO3)3 (g) (3)
Interestingly, when tungsten nanoparticles were heated at 1100 ℃, under a pressure of 10-7 torr for 1-hour, continuous nano porous structure particles grew into separated, larger particles, As shown in Figure 3. On the other hand, when they were preheated at 700 ℃, 0.5 ~ 1 torr for 20 mins, then were annealed at 1100 ℃, under a pressure of 10-7 torr for 1 hour, tungsten particles became highly faceted.
Although highly faceted particles were obtained after the heating procedure, there were still some un-faceted nano particles remaining on the substrate, which implies that additional research is needed to fully convert the morphology of the particles. Therefore, future work will focus on optimizing parameters to improve the uniformity of the tungsten nanoparticles.
In conclusion, the result above revealed that morphology of the tungsten nano particles vary as heating condition (pressure, oxygen partial pressure, and temperature) changes. This provides an effective way of growing and tailoring the shape of tungsten nano particles without the use of chemical reactions. Moreover, since morphology plays a critical role in the properties of materials, such as catalytic activity, thermal stability, and surface energy, the results herein are meaningful for the design of surface sensitive materials.
Figure 1 schematic of nanoparticle generator
Figure 1 picture of nanoparticle generator
Figure 2 TEM results of deposited materials which showed a nano porous structure.
Figure 3 Morphologies of nano tungsten particles under different heating condition
Aluminum Art
Aluminum Wired
Seung-mo Park is a sculptor who uses aluminum wires to create complex and stunning works of art. Park layers the wire, bending and welding it until he completes his three-dimensional sculptures.
Most people focus on the material first. When Park exhibited his aluminum series, people often asked him how he came to decide on aluminum. They wondered how aluminum wires could be used to create everything everyday objects like bicycles, instruments, statues of Buddha and even people.
A bicycle is a bicycle. An instrument is an instrument. Buddha is Buddha. But are the sculptures even real? The sculptures made of meticulously wound up wires are all empty inside. What the viewers think they see, isn’t truly there. The intensity of the subject matter and the difficulty of the pieces of art captivated audiences. Seung-mo Park says of his work, “You recognize it clearly as a picture from a distance first, but as you start to approach, it begins to fade and you feel a sense of alienation. People usually move back to view the work again, what I want is only for them to ask themselves at that moment – ‘Is it real or not?’”
Do you have a piece of Aluminum Art you’d like to share? Contact us at
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2022-05-24T16:50:03-04:00May 23rd, 2022|Newsletter|Comments Off on SECAT Newsletter, Vol. 10, Issue 2

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