Future City Competition 2017

The Engineering Society of Detroit hosted the Michigan Regional Future City Competition January 23, 2017. The Future City Competition is an educational program where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Over four months, students work as a team with an educator and volunteer mentor to design a virtual city using SimCity software; research and write an essay addressing this year’s theme; build a model of their city using recycled materials; complete a project plan, and present their city before a panel of judges at a Regional Competition in January. Regional winners go on to represent their region at the national competition in Washington DC in February. 

Applied Process took part in the Future City competition by joining a team of specialty judges put together by the American Society of Materials (ASM) to award one team the Best Use of Materials award. The cities were judged for this award based on the thought put into the materials used to build the model and how materials would affect the future city.

It was an uplifting experience to talk to the students and to get a glimpse into their versions of a utopia. The future cities focused on the environment, embracing all ways and views of life, and endless scientific possibilities. 

The team that won the Best Use of Materials award was Grand Blanc West Middle School from Grand Blanc, Michigan. They also took third place overall and will be moving on to the national competition! Their city cleverly used recycled materials such as aluminum foil, burlap, plastic, and cardboard to construct their city. Their future city theoretically included recycled aluminum car bodies and carbon nano-tube structures that focused on vertical growth of the city rather than spreading across the land. Their streets incorporated solar panels to help power their city of the future. 

For more information on the Future City Competition visit: http://ww2.esd.org/EVENTS/futurecity.htm

ASM International Detroit Chapter Meeting

On Monday, November 14th, Wanda Bryant, a middle school teacher at the Henderson Academy in the Detroit Public School system was awarded the Kathy Hayrynen Scholar Award at the ASM International Detroit Chapter meeting in Warren, MI.  In 2014, the ASM Detroit Chapter established 5 teacher scholar awards to provide grants to teachers who need financial assistance for materials (and metallurgy) related activities in their classrooms.  One of these teacher awards was named “the Kathy Hayrynen Scholar Award” to honor Dr. Kathy for 15 years of volunteer service to organize and operate the ASM Teachers’ Materials Camp held annually in Ann Arbor.

The Teachers’ Materials Camp is a week-long workshop conducted within the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan.  Its purpose is to introduce basic concepts of materials science to both middle school and high school teachers.  The emphasis is on low cost, hands on activities for math, science and technology students.

ASM International is the professional society for Materials Engineers.  It has 90 Chapters worldwide with a membership of 29,000.

Congrats to all award recipients! 

Pictured L to R:  J. P. Singh (ASM Detroit Chapter Chair), Laura Moore (Hartland High School), Dr. Peggy Jones (GM), Dr. William Frazer (ASM International President), Wanda Bryant (Detroit Public Schools), Dr. Kathy Hayrynen (AP) and Karen Forsyth (Utica Public Schools).

Castings in Washington D.C.

Here is a guest post from our VP of Sales; Steve Metz.  He recently vacationed in Washington D.C; while there he discovered historical landmarks which also happen to be castings! 


My wife and I recently had the opportunity to be ‘tourists in our own country’ and spent a long weekend in Washington D.C.  Some of you may know that my wife is an interior designer, but I am a Materials Engineer who has spent my entire career in the foundry and heat treatment worlds so we use different halves of our minds.  I noticed that after 10 years of marriage, everything I look at is evaluated for the way it is manufactured and my wife is always looking at the way materials, colors and design come together.

Day one of our trip found us at Arlington National Cemetery where we were humbled and appreciative of the sacrifice so many have made in defense of our freedom and beliefs.  The signs reminding attendees of the decorum required were made of die cast aluminum.  The signs showing the way to different areas of the cemetery are cast from brass.  As we solemnly stood at the tomb of the unknown soldier awaiting the changing of the guard I thought about the rifle he was carrying and the number of investment cast steel components it contains.

Day two of our journey took us to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where I stumbled across a gem of a display that talked about the advent of gasoline powered tractors in the 1920’s.  The number of castings (steel or gray iron) on this 1920’s vintage Fordson tractor was staggering and I lost count when trying to capture the extent.

While we were at the Air and Space Museum there was an honor flight of WWII, Korean and Vietnam War veterans who arrived from their journey.  The museum has several exhibits including planes that were used by the military over the years and the eyes of these veterans, many in their 90’s, grew wide as they saw the planes that were so integral to our victory.

We closed out our trip with a visit to the WWII Memorial where we saw several other examples of castings on display.  From the copper/bronze wreath that adorns the pillar for each state, to the stars that each represents 100 of our soldiers lost or missing.

In the end I was humbled by the beauty that resides in these places of remembrance and history.  The fact that castings are foundational in so many of the things we see and use each and every day is inspirational.

~ Steve Metz 

2016 ADI World Conference

This past week Applied Process was proud to be one of the sponsors for The Ductile Iron Society 2016 World Conference on Austempered Ductile Iron. The conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel on October 27th and 28th. The conference included technical presentations on topics from machinability advances in thin sections and lightweighting to applications of ADI in various industries. There was an international presence at the conference including speakers from Germany, Turkey, United Kingdom, Italy, and China. It was a great program and well-received.

Students made up 10% of the attendees. Five universities were represented at the conference: University of Michigan, Virginia Tech, University of Alabama – Birmingham, University of Northern Iowa, and Tennessee Tech. The students who attended are all graduating within the next two semesters and either attending graduate school or looking for employment in the materials industry. This was a great networking opportunity and we look forward to the next conference. 


Thoughts of Fall and Reflections on AP University

Today is a special and meaningful one for me on several accounts.  The first day of fall signals the time when life starts to settle down as the trees in WI and MI start to turn colors and the days grow shorter.  Many will say that is only a sign of the winter to come, but this is truly the time of year I enjoy the most as the air turns crisp and the landscapes turn vibrant.  Today we also welcome the 10th graduating class of AP University into the world, armed with new knowledge and passion about how to reduce weight, cut cost and improve component performance through the use of the ductile iron casting process and Austempered Ductile Iron (ADI).  Though the teaching days are long, there is nothing more fulfilling than educating future evangelists and answering the many great questions on how the processes work.  If you are interested in learning more about AP University and attending our classes, check out our class schedule and descriptions at our APU page. 

Next week Rusty Rainbolt and I are off to MINExpo in Las Vegas to prospect for new opportunities in the mining industry.  Stay tuned for further updates and pictures of some really big stuff!

Until then, cheers!

-Steve Metz
Vice President of Sales 

Pictures from Joyworks on our last day of APU

What's In a Name?

Today is the day. The beginning of the NFL regular season football, a fresh start for our favorite teams and our fantasy teams. Sundays will be full of friends and family gathered around the big screen yelling for favorite teams.  In the coming weeks we will be sharing facts about one of America's favorite pastimes- Football!

Have you ever wondered how the football teams got their names? There are certainly reasons behind more ubiquitous names like Bears, Panthers, and Broncos but what about the more unique names like the Steelers? What exactly is a Steeler? Notice the spelling: it’s not ‘steal’ as in theft, but ‘steel’ as in the ferrous alloy. Interesting.

Pittsburgh is known as the Steel City because it was an industrial hub for coal mining and steel production in the 19th and 20th centuries. Andrew Carnegie introduced the Bessemer steel making process in 1875 and helped shape Pittsburgh into the Steel City. United States Steep Corp. was formed in 1901 and up through the mid-1950’s Pittsburgh produced nearly half of the national steel output. The area around Pittsburgh became known as the Steel Valley and includes parts of eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and the northern panhandle of West Virginia.

The Steelers were originally founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1933 and are the oldest franchise in the American Football Conference (AFC). Before the 1940 season the name changed to the Steelers. The current logo was first introduced in 1962. It incorporates the Steelmark, a symbol originally designed by U.S. Steel Corp. and now owned by the American Iron and Steel Institute. The original meanings behind the astroids  in the symbol were, “Steel lightens your work, brightens your leisure, and widens your world.” Later the colors came to represent the ingredients used in the steel-making process: yellow for coal, red for iron ore, and blue for scrap steel. In 1963 the team was given permission after a petition to AISI to add “ers” to “Steel” and the logo we know today was born. 

Last Days of Summer!

Let’s talk Summer. The end is soon approaching and typically this is one of the last big weekends where family and friends enjoy some of their favorite past times. The warm summer air will soon turn to a cool breeze and the leaves will be off the trees before you know it, which means one last big weekend soaking in the summer sun sounds pretty good to most! A couple of favorites that we enjoy around here are boating, kayaking, camping and exploring what nature has to offer.

Boating provides an array of activities for all. There are so many styles and sizes of boats available for all interests. Boats can be categorized into three main types: there are unpowered or human- powered boats such as rafts and floats like canoes, kayaks.  Sailboats are another kind which can be propelled by the wind and sail and lastly there are motorboats which are powered mechanically with an engine. These allow for more recreational use like skiing, tubing, fishing, etc.

Boats are commonly made of wood, aluminum, steel, fiberglass or any combination of these materials. Wood is the traditional material used for boat building and can be considered a classic style. In the mid-20th century aluminum gained popularity. Though much more expensive than steel, there are now aluminum alloys available that do not corrode in salt water, and an aluminum boat built to similar load carrying standards is lighter in weight than the steel equivalent. Steel is commonly used on larger vessels and aluminum is usually found on canoes, skiffs, pleasure craft and fishing boats. Around the mid-1960s boats made of fiberglass became popular, especially for recreational use. Fiberglass boats are strong, and do not rust, corrode, or rot. They are, however susceptible to structural degradation from sunlight and extremes in temperature over their lifespan. Depending on which activities you enjoy or what you are looking for in a boat there are so many different styles to choose from.

If you prefer a much simpler route on water, you may find that canoeing and kayaking is your style! Most of today's canoes and kayaks are made from three materials: thermoplastic, fiberglass, or aluminum. These, like boats can all vary in durability and price, and how much you are planning on the use of them. 

Everyone is familiar with camping in some way, shape, or form. But do you know the anatomy of camping? Your tent, for example? Tent poles are made from fiberglass or aluminum and held together by shock cord. This keeps the poles lightweight and portable for hiking and ease of packing. Tent fabric may be made from a number of materials including: canvas, nylon, and polyester.

Maybe you’re a glamper? Most RV’s have steel frames that are welded, bolted, or riveted together. Wood is generally used to frame up an RV’s walls and floors because it is inexpensive, lightweight, flexible and durable. RV skins are made from either aluminum or fiberglass. A classic example of aluminum skin is the Airstream trailers – but even the more modern looking RV’s with the white or taupe paint colors can be aluminum as well.  The hitches used to pull RV’s are ductile iron or austempered ductile iron.

Food is a necessary and fun part of camping. Many people eat food that is easy to roast over a fire on a stick – but some bring pots and pans for cooking. If you’re a hike-in-and-camp person, then your cookware will be very lightweight stamped steel or aluminum. If you’ve got the room and you’re driving directly to your campsite, then you might have a cast iron skillet to cook food over the fire. Or maybe your RV comes with a stove. Whatever the occasion this holiday weekend we hope that you are able to enjoy the last days of summer and the beautiful nature that surrounds us all!

Materials Science in the Olympics!

This past week we have watched the Rio 2016 Olympics unfold.  They have been nothing short of excitement, determination and bravery among all athletes worldwide. At Applied Process we enjoy sharing those moments and reliving the highlights together as some of our favorite athletes compete to bring home the gold.  We decided to take a closer look at the role materials science plays in the Olympic sports that are currently happening in Rio and even around the world.

Fencing began as a form of military training and morphed into a sport somewhere between the 14th and 15th centuries. The sport of fencing is one of only four to have been featured at every modern Olympics. There are three different swords for fencing: the foil, the epee (pronounced ep-AY), and the saber. The foil got its name because it was originally made from rolled steel foil. Today’s blades are also steel. The cheapest blades are quench and tempered medium carbon steel. These have a tendency to break due to fatigue cracking. A more expensive blade is maraging steel which offers an increased lifetime but can still fail by brittle fracture.

Weightlifting is one of the original Olympic events. As a means to measure strength and power, weightlifting was practiced by ancient Egyptians and Greeks. Today weightlifters focus on two techniques: the ‘snatch’ and the ‘clean and jerk’, which determine their place according to their total combined results.  The weights used are rubber coated ASTM Grade 20 cast iron and the bars the lion weights rest on are steel.

Tennis has been a sport in the Olympics since 1988.  Originally early tennis rackets were made of wood but as technology progressed so did the materials of the racket.  Modern tennis rackets are made from a wide range of materials to help maximize performance. Some of these materials include a high modulus graphite and/or carbon fiber, which is used to keep the frame lightweight and stiff for increased racket head stability and performance.  The graphite and carbon fibers allow for more aerodynamic shapes to be made which increases the speed in which the racket can travel through the air. Other materials that might be used in tennis rackets are titanium and tungsten, which can add stiffness where necessary.  In addition, you might find Boron/Kevlar which is similar to graphite but both are lighter and stiffer. The rackets made from these are typically very durable however less forgiving than graphite or aluminum.

Shot put is another interesting sport to watch, you never know what might come out of it, and how far the shot will actually go. Typically, the men’s shot weighs 16.01 pounds and the women’s shot weighs 8.8 pounds.  The scoring is based on the competitor with the longest legal throw put.   The shot can be made of different kinds of materials depending on its intended use.  Some of the materials used include sand, iron, cast iron, solid steel, stainless steel, brass, and synthetic materials like polyvinyl.  Some of these metals are denser than others which can affect the range and speed of the shot.  The shot put has been a part of the world Olympics since 1896.

Golf has made its way back into the Olympics this year after being gone for more than a century. Golf was reintroduced due to its global expansion and popularity. It’s not back permanently, though, as the International Olympic Committee only voted to reinstate golf through the 2020 Games in Tokyo, at least for now.  It’s typical for golfers to have a favorite golf club they might use for a specific event.  Club heads were historically made of beech, dogwood, apple, pear and persimmon woods.  Today, the materials usually used for club heads are titanium, steel, graphite, boron or steel alloys.

These are just some of the ways that materials science has advanced over the years and in the Olympic games. We hope you enjoy watching the rest of the Rio 2016 Olympics!

Chemistry is Patriotic!

The weekend is vastly approaching and if you haven't noticed already, firework shops are booming all over town. Plenty of parties, picnics and towns will be entertained by them on this holiday weekend.  Have you ever wondered what makes fireworks colorful? What makes them whistle, boom, and crackle? Chemistry.

The colors seen in most fireworks today are fairly recent phenomena. Before the 19th century colors were limited to golds, silvers, and oranges. Advances in chemistry have led to the addition of various agents to the fuels and oxidizers to produce the vibrant colors we see in the sky at modern displays.

Black powder is the propellant favored for fireworks. It is simply a mixture of charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate, and is most frequently used to make fuses, lift charges, and break charges.

Many fireworks are named for the effect they create. There are salutes, which are shells that explode violently, producing a loud report with very little visual effect other than smoke and a bright flash. Titanium salutes are similar except the report is accompanied by a large cloud of white sparks. Screamers are the shells that whiz with a screeching sound as the gain altitude.

The colored effects are often named after flowers like chrysanthemum, dahlia, and peony. The chrysanthemum is a spherical hard-breaking shell in which the stars produce a tail. A dahlia shell produces brightly colored stars that fall from a soft break. A peony is a spherical hard breaking shell in which the stars do not leave tails. There is a willow shell that produces trailing stars that droop and form a pattern similar to a willow tree.

The colors can be created by metals, inorganic compounds, or organic compounds. Titanium and aluminum are two metals used in the fuel to create white sparks. Lampblack, a form of carbon, creates golden sparks. Iron is used to create the branching sparks that resemble palm trees in the sky. Barium compounds create green, calcium compounds produce reddish-orange, copper compounds burn blue, sodium compounds flare yellow, and strontium compounds are responsible for red.

Now you can impress your friends and family with your new-found knowledge.  We wish you all a Happy 4th of July, as you watch the fireworks fill the sky!! 

Happy Armed Forces Day!

Happy Armed Forces Day!

Armed Forces Day originated in 1949 to honor Americans serving in the five military branches: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. This year Armed Forces Day falls on May 21 and will be celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. It is a day for the military to showcase state of the art equipment at fairs and parades around the country.

Applied Process is proud to be a part of the scientific community working to further develop materials for this state of the art equipment. Advances in metallurgical methods and lightweight alloys are leading to more effective and durable military vehicles and systems. These technologies and processes have applications in the aircraft, automotive, and electronics industries as well. 

Thank you to all of those who have served, and continue to serve our country!