As reported previously, Jonathan Wroe sadly passed away at the end of 2015. This interview was conducted earlier in 2015. Metal Powder Reports apologizes for any distress caused by the inclusion of this article in a recent newsletter which suggested the interview was conducted in 2016.

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How is the industry in Europe? Is it still bouncing back from 2008?

In terms of volume we’re pretty much back to where we were in the peak years before the crash, i.e. 2006/7. However, industry is different now. There has been rapid development in new industry sectors – in particular the HIP [hot isostatic pressing] side, and additive manufacturing [AM]. These markets are still rather small but in terms of the level of interest being generated and the new opportunities being presented, they are very interesting to me.

However, in general, my feeling is that things are not growing that quickly at the moment. I’ve seen several companies reporting figures that are the same, or are not much higher, than last year's figures. There has been talk of financial headwinds, and so on. Moreover, there has been a lot of uncertainty, financially speaking, with regards to crisis in Greece and the drop in the Chinese markets. But certainly, most parts of the industry are reasonably healthy and at the moment continue to be so. Statistics I’ve seen this year shown the industry at plus or minus 5% of where we were last year.

What developments have there been in HIP?

There are two things in HIP technology that in my opinion offer good scope for development. The technology has got many end users in the energy sector, particularly the oil and gas industries, and also on the aerospace side. Long term, both these markets offer major opportunities for the HIP industry.

I also believe that HIP is going to play an interesting role in the development of additive manufacturing, depending on which additive technique is being used. A lot of AM parts will need some secondary finishing in order to bring them up to the structural integrity level required in the market. This could be a very good opportunity for HIP to piggyback on some of the developments that come through from AM. That, again, is potentially is going to be a very interesting area.

Euro PM's Young Engineers Day was very successful last year. Is a main focus of the EPMA's role to promote PM to younger engineers?

Yes – following some discussion at the EPMA Council we felt that we needed to do more in that direction.

While for many years now we have held our popular EPMA Summer School short courses, we realised there was an additional need to focus on young people who have not yet decided about being involved with PM. However, there is also a need to educate people who are already involved in some way in PM, such as material scientists and engineers. It's a good way for them to see that it is a growing industry with good job prospects and that they could potentially make a career out of it.

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This article appeared in the May/June issue of Metal Powder Report.

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