Portrait of Olha Sereda
In charge of the Additive Manufacturing and Component Reliability department in Neuchâtel, CSEM
Lives in Neuchâtel
Olha Sereda obtained her Master’s in Chemistry from Lviv Polytechnic National University in Ukraine.
CI have always had a passion for this subject, and I wanted to focus on its application in technology
she explains. Her Master’s complete, she came to Neuchâtel, where she undertook postgraduate studies culminating in a doctorate. Her academic path led her to work with Professor Helen Stoeckli-Evans, a meeting that would prove significant. Stoeckli-Evans introduced her to an analytical technique based on X-ray diffraction, a non-destructive method she found fascinating. After a post-doctorate at the University of Neuchâtel (UniNE) Institute of Microtechnology, she joined the CSEM. Five years later, she took charge of the Additive Manufacturing and Component Reliability department, where a dozen staff study, test and analyse materials in support of Swiss industrial competitiveness.
What are the core competencies of your department?
Our key competencies are divided across three largely interdependent areas:
- Expertise in materials and optimisation of procedures ;
- Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing ;
- Accelerated ageing tests and determination of failure mechanisms in microsystems.
In the first area, our speciality is the relationship between the microstructure and physical properties of materials. We use incredibly powerful techniques to examine this microstructure, enabling us to characterise the materials down to atomic level. We then draw on our expertise to improve the properties – tribological or mechanical, for example – of these materials. By means of an iterative process undertaken in close collaboration with the client, we then work to optimise the development process.
The department’s second area, additive manufacturing, has opened up exceptional opportunities which we are working on materialising. Thanks to this innovative method, we are able to produce new designs which would be inconceivable with traditional manufacturing methods and which are fully compliant with product performance requirements. For example, selective laser melting (SLM) makes it possible to print metal parts in 3D. This innovation process is supported by quality control over the parts, in terms of both their microstructure and mechanical resistance, while also maintaining the emphasis on the target performance levels.
In our group’s third area of activity, we concentrate on implementing accelerated ageing tests for understanding these systems’ mechanisms and modes of failure. For example, various approaches are currently being evaluated to predict the reliability of components in demanding environments such as in space. A series of practical tests is performed to evaluate resistance to vibrations, mechanical shocks and irradiation. Advanced analyses of this kind make is possible to identify weaknesses in a component and to ensure better performance over time.
Could you give some practical examples of research carried out in your department?
We are fortunate to have activities in different fields such as the space, watchmaking, and the medical and automotive sectors. The range is broad thanks to the nature of our competencies in materials and additive manufacturing. Many examples are confidential, but I can, for example, tell you about an aerospace company that came to us seeking to drastically reduce the weight and dimensions of a particular part. By means of additive manufacturing, we completely reworked the design of the part, as well as its manufacturing process, using 3D technology. We were able to make it five times lighter while retaining the same levels of performance. This type of challenge is incredibly exciting. It allows us to meet the customer’s need and give them a competitive advantage. This corresponds completely to the CSEM’s mission, which is to support industry.