At the beginning of the summer a student from the University of Sheffield joined Tufcot in the role of technical intern. Megan is studying for a Masters in Materials Science and Engineering. As part of their studies, the students are provided with the opportunity to undertake a five-month industrial placement. Megan contacted Tufcot in November last year to express her interest in carrying out her placement. After completing her third year of study, she joined Tufcot in May 2018 and will stay with the company until September before returning to university for her final year.
For some time, Tufcot have been interested in developing a grade of material that can operate to a higher temperature than any of the materials in the current range. As part of Megan’s placement, students are required to work on a project and developing a new, higher temperature grade of Tufcot seemed like the perfect project. The polyester resins and fabrics used in Tufcot’s current material range can operate to around 120°C. Our aim is to produce a material that can be used at temperatures much higher than this. Megan began her placement by investigating potential new resins and fabrics, with good thermal properties, that could be incorporated into the Tufcot process. The next stage was to order sample material and eight weeks into Megan’s placement with Tufcot, the first prototype material was made.
Megan has also been working with Tufcot on a number of other projects:
- Developing a grade of Tufcot that is electrically conductive
- Creating material with a high friction co-efficient (opposed to the low friction co-efficient usually required for bearings)
- Creating material with high thermal conductivity (for use in applications where friction may lead to heat generation)
As well as considering new resins and fabrics, different additives and fillers were also investigated. Small additions of different fillers can dramatically change the properties of the Tufcot material.
A significant part of any material development is the product testing. Although known for metallurgy, Sheffield University has an extensive polymer and composite centre. Having a student working with Tufcot provides invaluable links to the university and to the testing facilities there. The technical team have an upcoming visit to the university and hopefully testing will be underway.