Dr. Leo Prakash was a renowned authority in the field of cemented carbides and other hard materials. A modest man with a contagious smile, he often understated his wealth of knowledge on the subject which is widely acknowledged within both academic and industrial circles.
His pioneering work in the late 1970's and early 1980's on iron-based binders for hardmetals led to the commercialization of several alternatives to pure cobalt and laid the foundation for the wave of recent research and development into low cobalt and cobalt-free hardmetals, an important topic considering the status of cobalt as a critical raw materal as well as the current strict classification issues. Following on, from the mid-late 1980’s and into the 1990’s, his fundamental studies into the mechanisms of grain growth inhibition and sintering of the very finest grained tungsten carbide hardmetals at the time were also of great significance for the industry, as were his studies of material properties and performance in both laboratory tests and practical applications. He authored or co-authored over 40 publications in international journals, conferences and textbooks, and many are still regularly cited today.
Based on his many decades of international industrial experience in R&D, production and general management within the hardmetal industry, even after most people enjoy a comfortable retirement he continued practicing his art and supporting academia and industry through his global consultancy activities and participation in many national and international bodies.
For the last 10 years, he was co-chairman of the EuroHM, the European hard materials group within the EPMA (European Powder Metallurgy Association). In this role he originated and initiated a series of "Club Projects", bringing together RTO's and industrial companies from across Europe to perform pre-competitive basic research on a range of topics related to cemented carbides. This collaborative model has also been adopted by other sectoral groups within the EPMA and has proven to be one of its’ success stories of recent years. At EuroPM and WorldPM conferences, his hard work behind the scenes helped shape the scientific content of Technical Sessions and he personally organized several Special Interest Seminars at those events. The EuroHM could simply not have achieved its current standing without his tremendous support.
He was central to fostering a true hard materials community within Europe and is an iconic and highly respected figure within the field. One lasting contribution will be the “Vision2025” EPMA roadmap document for hard materials he co-authored, defining the future strategy and R&D focus of the European hard materials community and how it should address the major challenges of low cost competition from outside Europe and potential raw material supply chain disruption.
He will be sorely missed.