Volume 10, Issue 4

November 2022 – Winter Issue


Extrusion Class Success!

In October, Secat conducted a 2-day Extrusion Class at a customer’s facility. The class was led by VP of Engineering, Shridas Ningileri, and was well attended. If you would be interested in a private class for your company, please contact us at

Secat Acquires Innovatech Labs, Expands Technical Capabilities

Secat, Inc. has acquired Innovatech Labs, a Minnesota based analytical laboratory specializing in advanced surface analysis techniques and innovative chemical testing methods. This includes Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES) and Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA) for surface materials characterization and analysis, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) Testing used to identify organic (and in some cases inorganic) materials based on their absorbance of infrared light, HPLC – Ion Chromatography (IC) Testing for the separation and quantification of anions and cations and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) Analysis with Headspace Capability to identify the various components of a sample using separation based on size and/or polarity. The mass spec detector allows various components to be identified. The faciltiy also has the capability for Liquid Particle Counting (LPC) where particles in a solution are sorted by size range and counted. Particles on a solid surface can also be extracted with water, then analyzed by LPC. The facility also has capabilities for Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC) and Thermal Gravimetric Analysis (TGA), which are primarily geared toward organic materials and complements similar techniques at SECAT which are set-up for analysis of inorganic materials.

As a result of the acquisition, Secat adds a talented group of chemists to its team of metallurgical engineers and expands its service offerings to include chemical analysis, cleanliness testing, out gassing testing, and quality control testing. The combination of advanced metallurgical and chemical analysis equipment extends Secat’s growth into polymers, electronic materials and medical devices while also strengthening its presence in the metals industry.

Todd Boggess, President of Secat commented on the acquisition “I’m excited about the recent investments made at Secat. The analytical lab in Minnesota adds many new capabilities and an amazing group of people with in-depth knowledge and experience to our organization. Also, the latest capital investments to our Kentucky facility, including an experimental scale vertical direct chill cast house, thermal equipment, rolling mill, and forging press provide unique opportunities for our customers.”

Secat, Inc. provides materials testing services and R&D support to a wide range of industries. With facilities in Lexington and Nicholasville, KY and now Plymouth, MN, Secat is prepared to meet your needs and deliver world class results. Please visit and or subscribe to our newsletter for more information. 

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Brenda Moore Joins Secat!

Brenda Moore joined the Secat team in September as Staff Accountant overseeing the accounting processes for the Lexington, KY office. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Berea College and has worked in accounting for over 25 years in both public and private accounting.

Welcome Brenda!

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Person of Interest

Jennifer Mathias, Lab Manager – Innovatech Labs

Jennifer received a BS in Biology & BA in Chemistry from Bemidji State University and began her career as a Chemical Technician with Honeywell / Alliant Techsystems. She joined Innovatech Labs in 1993 and currently serves as Lab Manager. In addition to HR and marketing duties, she has been helping customers solve issues such as contamination or failed materials and routine quality control monitoring for over 30 years. Jennifer also designed and oversaw the build out of 2 laboratory facilities.

Give us a quick overview of your job and responsibilities at Innovatech.

As the lab manager I wear many hats! I will be the first point of contact for many of our customers, providing direction on what type of analysis is best suited to obtain the information required by the customer, and quoting the costs of these analyses. I also work with the marketing team to create educational content in the forms of blog posts for our website. In addition to office duties, I also perform FTIR analyses and am a back-up operator for the IC, TGA & DSC.

What are some things that happen for you in a typical day at work?

There’s rarely a “typical” day in a lab that works with customers from such a variety of industries, but I would say most mornings you will find me in my office replying to customer questions and preparing quotes for incoming projects. Once the coffee kicks in, I’ll head back to the lab and perform analyses on jobs that are in the queue that day. By mid to late afternoon, I’m back in my office writing and reviewing reports and replying to emails that have come in throughout the day.

What do you look forward to with the Secat/Innovatech combined capabilities?

I’m really excited about learning more about the aluminum industry and supporting Secat customers with issues like coatings or corrosion. In addition, having all of Secat’s capabilities and wealth of knowledge about metals will be a huge benefit to our current Innovatech customers.

Tell us something about yourself (outside of the industry) that people may not know.

I have been a 4-H volunteer for over 10 years. During this time, I have mentored youth in a number of programs such as poultry, llamas and therapy animals. I have two registered therapy llamas, Fred and Archie and a therapy registered dog, Ari, as well. We go to nursing homes, school & library events and fundraisers for charitable organizations. My favorite part of bringing the llamas to an event is how they bring out smiles on whoever is around. I never get tired of seeing a child’s eyes light up when they get their first chance to pet a llama or talking to a retired farmer in a nursing home about the care and uses for llamas.

Certificate in Aluminum Metallurgy

The use of aluminum is increasing in many industries because of its outstanding properties, low cost, and recyclability. As more people are entering careers in the aluminum industry, there is a need for specific training in aluminum metallurgy. The Secat Certificate in Aluminum Metallurgy program was created to address this need and provide comprehensive education at the beginner to intermediate level for people new and old to the industry. Students interested in the program may be quality practitioners/engineers who are transitioning from careers in different industries, engineers who have recently graduated from college, or operators/supervisors who have grown within a company and want to take their careers to the next level.

The training will feature a combination of lectures and hands-on laboratory demonstrations. The courses will be taught at Secat’s testing laboratory in Lexington, KY and at Secat’s pilot facility in nearby Nicholasville, KY. The completion of four week-long (M–F) modules titled: Casting, Thermal Treatments, Deformation Processing, and Testing/Properties will lead to the Certificate in Aluminum Metallurgy. In addition to instruction from Secat’s experienced staff, several experts in their respective fields will provide additional instruction in specific topics, including:

Dr. Alan Luo at Ohio State University – Die and Megacasting

Mr. David Weiss at Eck Industries – Sand & Permanent Mold Casting and Sustainability

Dr. Wojtek Misiolek at Lehigh University – Aluminum Extrusions

Dr. Scott Goodrich, Retired from Constellium – Hot and Cold Rolling of Aluminum

Dr. Rudy Buchheit at University of Kentucky – Corrosion Mechanisms in Aluminum Alloys

Dr. Judy Runge at Apple – Coatings for Aluminum

A brief outline for each of the four modules is provided below:


Introduction to Aluminum

Shape casting of aluminum with demonstration using a step mold

Billet and ingot casting using Secat’s vertical direct chill casting equipment

Charging, filtration, and degassing

Analysis – microstructure, PoDFa, Alscan

Recycling, emissions, energy and sustainability

Thermal Treatments:


Annealing, stress relief and pre-heating

Solution heat treatment

Quench experiment exploring the effects of cooling rates with different quenchants


Deformation Processing:

Hot and cold rolling with demonstrations for both processes

Forging with upset compression demonstrations and measurement of flow stress


Stamping, drawing, joining and fabrication


Grades and tempers

Chemical composition and OES demonstration

Mechanical Properties with fracture toughness demonstration

Metallography (macro/micro) sample preparation demonstration

Microstructure evaluation by use of optical and electron microscopy

Formability by tensile r & n values and forming limit diagrams demonstration


Coatings and corrosion protection


$5,000 per module

Each module will be limited to eight participants. The four individual modules may be taken in any order, but all must be completed within four years to receive the Certificate in Aluminum Metallurgy. We believe this program will provide great value to your employees and business. We look forward to seeing you in Lexington in 2023!

Visit us at and check out all that we have to offer!

Featured Capabilities

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)

Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) is an analytical technique used to identify organic (and in some cases inorganic) materials based on their absorbance of infrared light.

Brief Introduction:

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy, or FTIR testing for short, is one of the most in-demand (and useful) materials analysis services. By measuring a sample’s absorption of infrared light at various wavelengths, FTIR analysis is able to identify the molecular composition and structure of a sample, making it incredibly useful for quality control of incoming products and as a troubleshooting tool for manufacturers that need help identifying unknown materials, additives, contaminants, and other materials mysteries.

Basic Theory:

FTIR analysis measures the range of wavelengths in the infrared region that are absorbed by a material. This is accomplished through the application of infrared radiation (IR) to samples of a material. The sample’s ability to absorb the infrared light’s energy at various wavelengths is measured.

A simple device called an interferometer is used to identify samples by producing an optical signal with all the IR frequencies encoded into it. The signal is then decoded by applying a mathematical technique known as Fourier transformation. This computer-generated process then produces a mapping of the spectral information. The resulting graph is the spectrum which is searched against reference libraries for identification.

Sample Preparation and Requirements:

Commonly used sampling techniques for FTIR include:

Attenuated Total Reflectance – ATR spectroscopy only requires that the sample comes into contact with the ATR crystal.

Specular Reflectance – SR typically occurs with glossy samples, such as glasses and crystalline polymers.

Reflection-Absorption – RA works with thin samples such as residues and paints on reflective substrates

Transmission – TR passes IR (radiation) through gas, liquid or solid samples and measures how well and at what frequencies the sample absorbs the infrared radiation.

With the use of the microscope attachment on the FTIR, samples as small as 10-20 microns can be analyzed and identified. This means a single fiber or a lone particle can be identified to determine the source. FTIR is capable of analyzing solids, liquid or gasses. Often a sample can be analyzed with little or no damage to the sample itself. FTIR analyses are typically quick, often taking less than ½ hour per sample, and generally require very little sample preparation. For this reason, FTIR is often the first technique employed when trying to identify an unknown or when looking for contamination present on a surface.

One caveat to keep in mind though, is FTIR is a bulk analysis method; small amounts of one material mixed in with a larger amount of another may not be seen and combinations of unknowns can be difficult to identify. These limitations can be overcome by using chemical extractions and/or spectral subtractions to isolate the smaller constituents or individual components of a mixture.


The versatility in the types of samples that can be analyzed makes FTIR the go to analysis in many industries. Not only can FTIR identify an unknown material or verify incoming materials, FTIR can also be used to determine the cleanliness of components. In one instance, a customer came to us with several lots of machined metal rods that were coated. The coating had a streaky appearance and poor adhesion. Retains of uncoated rods from previous lots which had good coating adhesive & appearance and uncoated rods from the failed lots were extracted with a solvent and the residue removed from both were analyzed by FTIR.  

The amount of material extracted from the rods having poor coating adhesion & appearance was much greater than was seen in the rods with good coating adhesion & appearance. This can be seen in the greater intensity of the spectrum of the failed rods vs. the good rods. The material removed from the rods matched the machining oil used in the processing of the rods. Additional cleaning steps were added to the process to ensure all of the machining oils were removed prior to coating and the issue of poor coating adhesion & appearance was resolved.  

FTIR Spectrum and Bench

Example of a sample spectrum compared to a reference library spectrum.

FTIR microscope

Aluminum Art

Korean music group BTS teamed up with British sculptor Antony Gormley for a massive art installation in Brooklyn as part of their “Connect, BTS“ global art series.

The installation, titled “New York Clearing,” was at Pier 3 in Brooklyn Bridge Park through March 2020. The sculpture is made from 18 kilometers of looping and intertwining aluminum tubing and was set against the Lower Manhattan skyline just across the East River.

Unlike many sculptures and installations, visitors were allowed to touch and even stand within the large, complex metal spirals of the piece.

This is apparently the first time one of Gormley’s “clearing” pieces has been installed outdoors, without architectural support.

Do you have a piece of Aluminum Art you’d like to share? Contact us at

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