In the beginning
Foundrax’s roots can be traced back to 1948, when Alfred Austin set up a foundry supply company in Southwark, South London. The company later moved to Cockspur Street, SW1, on the site of a former bank, before relocating to Somerset in 1976.
Alfred’s forebears ran a foundry equipment and chemical supply business and, right from the start, he brought his steelworks knowledge to bear; ensuring that Foundrax’s Brinell testing machines were built to withstand industrial shop-floor conditions – and this has been the case ever since.
Alfred also invented the CO2 casting process – a major achievement that very few in the industry are aware of, though his name is on the patent in several European countries. This process significantly improved the cohesion of the mould medium, thereby reducing the possibility of fragmentation and a failed cast, and it remains in use today.
From the analogue to the digital era
In 1963 Alfred’s son, Charles, took over as MD.
Among his many achievements, he oversaw the transition from the analogue to the digital era and, very significantly, developed the World’s first, fully automatic, optical Brinell microscope; the BRINtronic® system, which revolutionised the Brinell test by eliminating operator read-errors from the indentation measurement process. Better still, the company then developed the BRINscan® Brinell testing machine, which incorporated the microscope, thereby automating the entire indentation and measurement process into one cycle. You can read more about this here (and see Charles demonstrating a BRINscan®).
This breakthrough set in motion a transformation of the Brinell test from something regarded as somewhat ‘rough and ready’ (ok for shop-floor machinists, perhaps, but not laboratory engineers) to a safe, accurate, reliable system (a fact acknowledged by the National Physical Laboratory’s then expert on Brinell testing) and one that remains the international ‘default’ method for rough, cast components.
Having accompanied his father, Charles, to numerous industrial sites over the years, Alex Austin was enthused by Foundrax’s activity at an early age and became MD in 2001. An authority on the Brinell hardness test, he sits on the International Standards Organisation Committee and is in regular contact with European academic authorities.
Alex is currently focussed on bringing the next generation of Brinell hardness testers into production (the first of these was launched in 2021). He recently appointed new senior engineering staff and is expanding the production team to cope with increasing orders, particularly for Foundrax’s custom-designed, custom-built, bridge machines.
A highly skilled team
Foundrax’s reputation as the first-port-of-call for companies requiring ultra-tough Brinell testing machines has come about through the application of steel industry knowledge to the design process, extensive feedback from a loyal customer base and the building of a highly capable group of engineers and technicians with skills that range from all the way from traditional tool making to embedded software systems. The technical team is complemented by administrators in purchasing and logistics, sales, writing, analysis and marketing and, of course, the MD himself.