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6 October, 2021 - 12:42 By Tony Quested

Cambridge startup puts pedal to the metal

Plastometrex a Cambridge-based materials science startup, has formed a technical collaboration with Swedish-based sustainable metal giant, Ovako, which dominates Europe, the US and Asia. 

The collaboration is focused on extending Plastometrex’s new metal testing technology to assess very hard metals, including novel Hybrid Steel grades.

Plastometrex is a technology company formed by a team of materials scientists, all formerly of the University of Cambridge. The company combines advanced numerical methods with novel hardware systems to create advanced metal testing methods and products. 

Plastometrex’s flagship product, the benchtop Indentation Plastometer, reduces the time needed to test the strength of metals from hours to just three minutes.

Since launching in 2020, the technology is already being used by leading companies and universities across the world, including Element Materials Technology and The University of Oxford. 

Plastometrex has now forged a new technical collaboration with Ovako, one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of engineering steel. Ovako’s steel carries an 80 per cent lower carbon footprint than the global average. 

The feat has been achieved through a unique combination of a scrap steel-based production process and a low-carbon electricity source mix. Ovako, which is a global power player, uses a sustainable manufacturing process to produce a range of engineering steels, including the bearing applications and manufacturing and transportation markets. 

The two companies have formed a technical collaboration to extend the capabilities of the indentation plastometer to rapidly test the mechanical properties of very hard metals. 

Testing Ovakos’s recently launched Hybrid Steel® is a particular focus of the collaborative efforts. The novel grade results from the first successful combination of two well-established precipitation strengthening mechanisms – i.e. simultaneous hardening by both carbides and intermetallic precipitations. 

Hybrid Steel® is designed to meet the demands of high-stress, elevated-temperature applications where mechanical strength is critical.

Patrik Olund, vice-president and head of group R & D of Ovako, said: “We are very excited to be working closely with the Plastometrex team. Their platform methodology and innovative product provide a much-needed tool for both metallurgy R & D and production activities.

“By extending the capability of the technology to test the hardest metals, we will be able to use the technology to rapidly characterise and optimise our products as well as the novel Hybrid Steels.” 

Off the back of the Ovako collaboration, Plastometrex will shortly be releasing a new product update that will enable the device to test the vast majority of very hard engineering metals.

Chief scientific officer, Professor Bill Clyne, who leads Plastometrex’s research and development activities, said: “We are extremely pleased with the technical collaboration with OVAKO. They are a company with excellent scientific capabilities and a forward-thinking approach.

“Our collaborative work has been highly fruitful and directly resulted in capability improvements to our flagship product, which will soon be able to test very hard metals. We look forward to continuing to work with OVAKO to push the frontiers of mechanical testing.”

Plastometrex products are used globally to support metallurgy research and development activities in academia and across multiple industries.

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