Interview with KYOCERA Fineceramics Ltd featuring Allan Martin, General Manager

1. Kyocera has expanded significantly since it was founded in 1959 from a small workshop in Kyoto City with 28 employees to about  75,500 globally. What sets Kyocera apart from its competitors which has enabled this level of growth?

KYOCERA Corporation is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of fine ceramic components for the technology industry. The strategically important divisions in the KYOCERA Group, which is comprised of 297 subsidiaries are information and communications technologies, products which increase quality of life, and environmentally friendly products. The technology group is also one of the most experienced producers of smart energy systems worldwide, with more than 40 years of know-how in the industry. The large diversity of its products ranging from printers, digital copying systems, semiconductor-, fine ceramic-, automotive- and electronic components as well as printing devices and ceramic kitchen products sets Kyocera apart from its competitors.

2. What do you think are some of the key technologies that would push the future of the ceramics industry?

The key technology driving the Fine Ceramics industry in general is the continued advancement of electronics. IoT and telecommunication driving the 5G roll out; automotive applications like LIDAR, ADAS and EV battery technology thermal control; and of course semiconductor manufacturing itself. All these are pushing the boundaries of Fine Ceramics which  continues to be a key component of technology advancement.

3. Kyocera work with a large number of industries including medical and recently presented their latest innovation StarCeram® MultiShade Zirconium Blanks. Could you explain more about this?

This is related to Dental applications. The innovative StarCeram® Z MultiShade zirconium blanks from Kyocera enable a particularly efficient workflow, as the natural-looking colour gradient means that additional colour application is no longer necessary in further processing. Zirconia blanks have high strength and low thermal conductivity. Kyocera’s research department and internal quality management check every step of the blank production process, so that the blanks are manufactured with the highest degree of precision and provide perfectly fitting dentures. The maximum deviation in height is only 200 µm, so pre-milling of the front side is not necessary. Another advantage is the high biocompatibility of the restoration. That is why the new StarCeram® Z MultiShade Zirconium blanks are suitable both for patients with very high aesthetic demands and patients who prefer metal-free dentures.

4. Kyocera has been named as a supplier engagement leader by the Carbon Disclosure Project for a second year in a row along with being named one of the 100 most sustainably managed companies worldwide. Could you discuss more about how you obtained this?

The reason for this is Kyocera’s initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the company’s value chain.

For the first time, the award was given to Kyocera in 2019 in the fourth year after the establishment of CDP. At this time, Kyocera set the environmental target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including internal emissions and supply chain emissions, by 30% from fiscal 2013 levels by March 31, 2030. The 2020 list includes about 80 Japanese companies and Kyocera was named as a leading company on the list. Through the global disclosure system created by CDP, the environmental impact with focus on the three areas climate change, forest sustainability and water security of companies can be disclosed. Kyocera has been recognized in particular for its leading qualities in environmental transparency and performance and was highlighted with an “A” grade  among the more than 5,800 companies evaluated in 2020. This led to Kyocera being included in CDP’s “A List 2020” of forward-thinking companies. Furthermore, Kyocera’s environmental awareness was also recognized by the Wall Street Journal last year. In addition to CPD’s awards, the international newspaper included Kyocera as a company on its list of the “100 Most Sustainably Managed Companies in the World” in 2020. To create this ranking, analysts assessed the sustainability metrics of more than 5,500 publicly traded companies, determining that Kyocera is among the top two percent.

5. Could you explain what fine ceramics are and how they play a part in the advanced materials industry?

Firstly let me clarify the difference between ceramics and Fine ceramics. Ceramics are made from natural minerals whereas Fine Ceramics are made from highly refined raw materials.

Fine ceramics are engineered materials with chemical compositions that are precisely adjusted using refined or synthesized raw powders and well-controlled methods of forming, sintering and processing. They comprise of materials like alumina, zirconia, silicon carbide, silicon nitride, aluminium nitride, cordierite, etc.

Fine Ceramics are also called new ceramics or advanced ceramics in some regions and industries, and with higher levels of functionality compared to conventional ceramics they are used in a variety of fields, from common consumer products to various engineering applications to even outer space.

6. What are some of the products that Kyocera has created that you would say are your greatest achievements?

As a company, Kyocera has created numerous high-tech products for a wide range of different applications.

MOBILITY – Multifunctional Millimeter-Wave Radar
Kyocera have developed a single device which can detect multiple objects with different distances and directions

5G/INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)
Compact 5G router capable of connecting legacy devices to 5G via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, HDMI, or LAN. Also, with a conversion adapter, you can connect to HDMI, RS 232 C, and wired LAN ports for a variety of applications.

SMART MANUFACTURING
Kyocera’s devices and technologies contributing to the realization of Industry 4.0/Society 5.0 and digital transformation in the manufacturing industry.
Compact optical flow module for measuring fluid. The use of an optical system enables non-contact, non-wetted liquid measurement and measurement of small flow rates and high-viscosity fluids. These modules also contribute to installation cost reduction and improved design flexibility when installing flow meters.

ENERGY SOLUTIONS
Kyocera’s energy solutions-related efforts toward realizing a low-carbon society and helping to promote renewable energy.

7. What is Kyocera most looking forward to showcasing at Ceramics UK and the Advanced Materials Show?

Our attendance at Ceramics UK is twofold; In this uncertain time following the COVID 19 pandemic, Ceramics UK show is a good time to reassure existing and potential customers that Kyocera is a strong manufacturer and supplier to partner with and to assist our customers to take their products to the next level. As well as our core products in Fine Ceramics, the inclusion of Battery Cells & Systems and Vehicle Electrification Expo’s in the show, gives Kyocera a great opportunity to expand on our core business and promote other parts of the Kyocera portfolio that would enhance those particular technologies.