One of the high spots of EPMA’s annual get-together is always the open meeting of the European Hardmetals Group (EHMG), this year in Copenhagen. Uniquely, it was the second of the year, the first having been at the Plansee Seminar in Reutte, where it now takes the place of the former Plansee Society’s once-in-fouryears meeting.

Among the key features of the EHMG meeting were the results of initiatives taken at the Plansee gathering. First of these concerned the highly successful sequence of informal “Winterevs” (Winter reviews) and an online survey by organiser Bryan Roebuck of Britain’s National Physical Laboratory to determine their future. Each so far had taken place at an EPMArecognised centre of excellence and, starting in 2004, had covered toughness tests, powder characterisation, property maps, engineered surfaces and coatings, and binder-phase characterisation. According to Roebuck, they had become almost too successful, with growing attendance reducing their informality.

As a result of the survey, 17-18 June 2010 will see the first EHMG “Summerev,” running from lunchtime to lunchtime, Thursday and Friday. The idea is to hold future meetings at 18-month intervals, a Summerev in northern Europe alternating with a Winterev in the south. Since voting had been similar for “Fracture and fatigue” and for “Durability and damage,” the subjects have been combined for 2010 as “Fracture, fatigue and damage.” It will be hosted by the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, close to London, and contributions are now solicited. It will be followed by a Winterev at CEIT, San Sebastian, Spain (not exactly northern Europe) in February 2012 and provisionally by another Summerev in Barcelona in 2013.

The second of these initiatives was a “club project” for the ultrasonic fatigue testing of hardmetals in the gigacycle range, a technical area where very little scientific data is currently available. Co-ordinated by Olivier Coube, EPMA technical director, initial research will be carried out at TU Vienna, NPL and CEIT, with an additional seven industrial participants: Element Six, Hilti, Unimerco, Sandvik Hard Materials, Kennametal Technologies, Durit and Hartmetall AG. The initial phase is a feasibility study over eight months for which a budget of about €27000 has been allocated. Figure 1 shows the experimental apparatus, devised under the guidance of Professor Herbert Danninger of TU Vienna.

Olivier Coube reviewed recent and current co-operative activities of the EPMA. The 2009 Summer School took place in Kosice, Slovakia, during June, with 15 lecturers and 52 students – selected from 119 eligible applications. A Research Education Training (RET) brainstorming meeting is due in January 2010, to help plan special interest sessions, including hardmetals and metal injection moulding, for the World Congress 2010 in Florence later in the year. Ideas for further topics and session chairmen should be e-mailed to Olivier Coube at oc@epma.com.

Coube also reported on the current status of REACH, based largely on an EPMA Workshop held on 18-18 September 2009 in Brussels. Speakers came from ArcelorMittal, Umicore, Eurometaux, Nickel Institute (ENIA) and elsewhere. Results included improvements in co-operation, for example, between the PM industry and ENIA to refine nickel environmental data.

The challenge by REACH for the PM industry was said to be that all relevant uses from high-tonnage (>1000 t/a) uses were comprehensively registered by the manufacturer or importer before 1 December 2009. Such substances included Fe, Co, Ni, Mo, C, MoO3, W, WO3 and WC. Downstream users of materials must prepare a chemical safety report (CSR) for “any use outside the conditions described in an exposure scenario.” Not having a substance in a registration dossier as well as not preparing a CSR is illegal. The EPMA website includes very comprehensive information on current REACH requirements, and as a service to non-members as well as subscribing members of the EPMA has placed it in the non-members’ section of the site – www.epma.com/new_non_members/ tools. One such item drawn to the attention of meeting attendees was the template for communication of PM uses (Figure 2), updated in April 2009 and covering three main areas: process description, operational condition and risk management measures.

The closing item of the official agenda was an opportunity to secure large-scale EU funding for pet projects of the PM industry in general and the hardmetal community, in particular. Under the “FP 7” code, the possibilities were very wide and included nano sciences and technologies, new materials, factories of the future, energyefficient buildings and “green” cars. Table 1 explains how the budget is split, Table 2 some possible calls for the PM industry, and Table 3 a suggestion by Professor Luis Llanes of UPC (the Technical University of Catalonia) for a joint application with EPMA.

Finally, there was an extra item, for which I have to admit responsibility. On behalf of the British Standards committee MTE/18, which deals with hard materials and cutting tools (and which I chair), I’ve been trying to persuade the corresponding ISO (International Standards Organisation) committee TC29 to update ISO Standard 513. This standard covers nomenclature describing harder-than-steel cutting-tool materials and their applications. Following my short presentation, EHMG has kindly agreed to circulate a questionnaire on the subject to its members. Needless to say, to give more information here might invalidate the results of the survey.

The next meeting of the Hardmetals Group is expected to take place during the EPMA-organised PM2010 World Congress at the Fortezza da Basso Congress Centre, Florence, Italy.