The next generation’s materials scientists

JoshSince joining us in May 2012 as a Trainee Metallurgical Technician, Josh Poulton has spent some time in most departments in the company in preparation for his current role in our materials testing laboratory.

Under the guidance of lead metallurgist and materials scientist, Paul Dutton, Josh has undergone a period training that has encompassed a wide variety of materials testing techniques.
A form of testing that we carry out for customers on a regular basis and one that Josh has become experienced in is the macro-examination of welded joints, often examined in accordance with the BS EN ISO 9606 standard. In order to check that the quality of the weld satisfies specified criteria, cross sections of a weld sample would have to be cut to a suitable size for testing and then polished to a smooth surface and etched with an acid solution. It is this process that would highlight the difference between the parent metal and the weld and enable a qualified technician to identify any defects that may be present.

As well as working within a laboratory setting Josh’s work takes him on-site to customers’ premises to carry out metal analysis using Positive Materials Identification (PMI). This form of testing uses X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to determine the alloy element constituents of a material and would typically be used on pipe-work and valves.  The on-site work could also include hardness testing which is carried out as a quality check to ensure a material meets specification. Josh also holds the PCN (Personnel Certification in Non destructive testing) Level II qualification in Visual Inspection which is utilised on-site and within a laboratory setting.    

In September this year, Josh will begin a two year BTEC Diploma in Manufacturing (metallurgy) which will formalise the in-house training he has received. In the first year the day release course will cover engineering maths, the structure and properties of metals and metallurgical techniques, going on to mechanical properties, further maths and mechanical and thermal treatments in the second year.

Josh commented “I’ve had lots of support from Paul and I’ve really enjoyed learning new skills and I’m now looking forward to a more formalised form of training and the possibility of using the Diploma as a springboard on to the materials foundation course and eventually a degree course.”