Powder Pioneer: Pier-Luc Paradis, Ironman uses TitaniumSeptember 17, 2021
As a support lead engineer in Montreal, Pier-Luc Paradis is responsible for helping customers on their additive journey, specifically with AP&C, GE Additive’s powder business that produces powders that are used in the metal additive manufacturing process. AP&C transforms titanium, nickel and aluminum into metal powders ready for use in a wide range of additive manufacturing applications across most industrial sectors.
“I work closely with our sales reps to support our customers in qualifying the powders within their specifications and ensuring the quality is up to par. My job is to help them be successful with their builds,” he explained.
Quality and specifications are important, especially for our medical customers as many times the 3D printed implant is going inside a body and the details and powder quality is crucial.
“I love my job. Our customers are essentially taking a powder and creating something solid that will be used in the real world, and it’s exciting to work for a company that is pushing the boundaries of what is possible with manufacturing.”
Pier-Luc studied mechanical engineering at the ETS (École de Technologie Supérieure) in Montreal, which equipped him to partner with customers on design and application processes.
When he’s not helping customers and changing the future of manufacturing, you can find him competing in sporting events or training with his AP&C colleagues.
Pier-Luc recently completed his first Half Iron Man competition in Montreal, which is impressive considering that Pier-Luc began training in 2017.
“I was active through high school and played hockey and ran, but when I went to university, I had to put all of that on the backburner,” he explained. “In January 2017 I decided to start training for a half marathon, and I ran my first half in May and then in a full in October.”
After completing a marathon, Pier-Luc wanted to challenge himself in a new way.
“In 2018, I decided to try out triathlons, so I bought a bike, got a pool membership and started swimming and cycling, in addition to running.”
In September 2018, he competed in his first Olympic triathlon, which is 1.5 km of swimming, 40 km of biking and 10 km of running. In 2019, he upped his game and competed in a Half Ironman, which is 1.9 km of swimming, 90 km of biking and 21 km of running.
“I’ve always been competitive, and I love to push myself beyond what I think I can do,” he explained.
He also enjoys the camaraderie and community sport provides. Pier-Luc is part of AP&C’s running club and helped start a cycling club at the site. Once a week after work, the AP&C cycling club usually rides between 30 and 40 kilometers. The running club runs about 5 km together a couple times a week over lunch.
“It’s a great way to bond, have fun and also challenge ourselves, and each other,” he said.
In the Montreal winter months, cycling outside is not an option, but the cycling club team members train on their own indoors and cheer each other on via social media. Others keep running or do cross country skiing to keep in shape.
“It’s a great motivation to get a text or hear what others are doing.”
Pier-Luc says that training and additive manufacturing aren’t that different. Both require dedication and extreme focus.
“When I’m working with a customer, my focus is all about supporting them and helping them achieve success. It’s the same when I train.”
When challenges come up in training or in his job, the most important thing for him is to keep calm, focus on the issue at hand, and developing an action plan.
“It’s important that when plan A doesn’t work out, it may be time to find a new plan. I always try to focus on solutions and putting energy into getting to the root of it.”
Another connection between his additive world and cycling world – Pier-Luc recently ordered titanium 3D printed bike pedals via a Kickstarter campaign. The pedals are being printed in Germany, and the advantage to additivity produced titanium pedals is that they are lightest pedals available.
“The beauty of additive is that you can perfectly design a pedal that will optimize performance,” he explained. “These are smaller, lighter pedals, that are also incredibly strong – that’s a good combo!”
The pedals are still being produced, but Pier-Luc hopes to use them in an upcoming race where titanium can help him compete in his next big challenge – a Full Iron Man.