Why did you specifically start to devote yourself to grinding aluminum alloys?
Aluminum alloys are quite advanced materials which are used throughout the world, from the food industry, or biomedicine to that largest sector of processing, the automobile industry, transport, aviation, the rocket and aerospace industries. Aluminum alloys are used because of their very good physical, chemical and mechanical properties. They have replaced traditional materials like steel and cast iron. The current Dean of the Faculty of Production Technology and Management at UJEP, Professor Michna, has long been recognized as an expert on these alloys, and because I teach at the faculty, we thought it was an excellent opportunity for our university to combine materials and the technological research of these alloys for grinding technology and to bring new insights to these scientific disciplines.
What does this method, for which you obtained a European patent, consist in?
I wanted to find a way to grasp the problem during the production of machine parts and equipment from aluminum alloy where it was not possible to reach the required quality of surface finish, especially in abrasive technology. It is very difficult to grind these kinds of materials to the required quality which is essential from the perspective not only of demands for quality of surface finish, but also for the subsequent lifespan of the machine parts.
As part of an intership in Japan at the Riken Research Center in Tokyo
I had a contribution at an international symposium on the subject
of grinding aluminum alloys and superalloys. The Japanese were enthusiastic.
Is it also possible to use your method in the Ústí region?
Just run down to the industrial zone in Trmice where there is a company which has long worked in the production of pistons for combustion engines. All of that is aluminum alloy.
What exactly does the attainment of a European patent mean to you and to the Ústí university? This is the first ever European patent for UJEP.
This is the culmination of the path on which I set out as a scientist. Stacks of paper have been transformed into an outcome which is practical and applicable to people and companies. When the patent was issued we and Mrs. Chancellor looked into the database of the Industrial Property Office which administers national and international patents in the Czech Republic. Out of curiosity, and for comparison, I also took out the information regarding the Czech Technical University in Prague, which is the oldest technical school in the Czech Republic. We found that according to the database IPO they have only a single European patent. So the Ústí university has become ranked among a family of universities with a European patent, which is quite a prestigious matter.
What particular significance does a European patent have on an international scale?
Large firms want to get the latest technology for their production. Especially automobile manufacturers, such as Audi and BMW, follow trends in regard to the processing of aluminum alloys. We expect an interest also from this environment. As part of an internship in Japan at the Riken Research Center in Tokyo in 2014, I had a contribution at an international symposium on the subject of grinding aluminum alloys and superalloys, and the Japanese were enthusiastic. My contribution was subsequently judged to be the best in the entire symposium and the university was given imaginary points in Japan. When I addressed the issue of grinding aluminum alloys on academic campuses and at conferences in the Czech Republic, most of the older professors made fun of me and did not believe in our success. Eventually now recognition has arrived from these respectable gentlemen from the academic community.
How will the research continue?
We have the basic things ready, colleagues from materials research are now testing more aluminum alloys with modified chemical elements for increasing selected mechanical properties. As soon as they prepare concrete results, after one or two years, we would like to return to aluminum alloys. Currently, I am focused on superalloys, that is, materials that have really “super” properties and they are used not only in aviation or aerospace, but also in medicine or in the chemical industry.