Engineering Materials Blogs

Read the views and opinions from the materials community. Share your thoughts and write us a blog. Just email editor@materialsforengineering.co.uk and let us know your thoughts, dilemmas, questions and opinions.

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02/10/2017

Will A.I. make engineers redundant?

I’ve heard it said many times, if the industrial revolution was about amplifying muscle power, the information revolution is about amplifying brain power. More than that, it is about amplifying computation and dealing with incomprehensible amounts of data and complexity to find fresh insights into our world. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are the modern-day equivalent to the steam engine. The roll out of these two broad technologies will fundamentally change life as we know it. Except, instead of it happening over 150 years like the industrial revolution, it’s predicted to happen in just 20 to 40 years.  Read More

14/09/2017

Buckling Pin Relief Valves and bursting discs – Which is best for you?

Buckling Pin Relief Valves (BPRVs) and bursting discs (rupture discs) are used when gas and liquid applications are at risk of becoming over-pressurised in order to relieve pressure. Information from ASME VIII Division I suggests the two are interchangeable — but which is best suited to your application?  Read More

12/09/2017

Driven by e-motion: ICE's long goodbye

In pre-recession 2007, I attended a lecture at Imperial College London on Peak Oil. The speaker, an academic with close ties to the oil and gas industry, believed Peak Oil had, in fact, happened. He claimed, it was entirely possible the lights would go out beyond 2012 and that the internal combustion engine would become obsolete almost overnight as the pumps ran dry.  Read More

08/06/2017

Is technology in danger of allowing anyone to think they can be an engineer?

There are some clear technology trends rapidly coming to the fore that are set to fundamentally change the way engineers think about design... and they are both being driven by manufacturing systems.  Read More

07/03/2017

Pressure is building on the automotive industry to reduce emissions

Deadlines mean different things to different people. To some, they're rigid; stuck hard and fast with little or no wiggle room. For others, it's simply a moment to reassess progress. Regardless, the general trait is to leave more to the last minute than is comfortable. So, as pressure mounts to deliver, the last push is often the most productive time of a project.  Read More

14/02/2017

GUEST BLOG: UK suppliers mitigate ‘Brexit risk’ for manufacturers

UK-based producers of plastic goods would benefit from operating in a more secure and lower-risk raw material supply chain if they switched to locally-based suppliers, thereby lessening the potential of impact of Brexit, claims Keith Freegard, director of Axion Polymers.  Read More

13/12/2016

Expect things to get more complex in 2017

It’s a year that’s been, well, unexpected. By all accounts 2016 will be remembered as the year the UK voted for Brexit, Trump won the White House and numerous celebrities passed away. So what on Earth can we expect from 2017?  Read More

27/09/2016

The potential of graphene for the composite market

Stronger than a diamond yet a million times thinner than a human hair, the properties of graphene are astounding. The market for this material may still be in its infancy, but graphene is already being hailed as one of the most disruptive technologies of our time. For the composite market, there is no doubt that using graphene could open up a host of new possibilities. Here, John Cove, marketing manager of test and measurement specialist, Starrett, discusses the impact this new technology will have on product design and manufacturing.  Read More

30/08/2016

Are biopolymers a green choice?

Biopolymers, as discussed before on the pages of Engineering Materials, are a bit of a confusing topic. Everyone from the engineers looking to specify them to the general public that will consume them, feels a bit baffled about what they actually are and what they offer. For plastics, using the word ‘bio’ is akin to those in the electronics industry adding ‘i’ in front of the name. It can be... misleading.  Read More

06/06/2016

Composites to plateau

The use of composites throughout industry has been on an upward and expanding path this last decade. It was kicked off, at least in a major way, by Boeing when it announced the Dreamliner all the way back in December 2003.  Read More

15/03/2016

BEEAs spring to action

Our search is now on for this year's industry stars. The entry process for the British Engineering Excellence Awards is now underway and open to any company or individual who are carrying out engineering design in the UK.  Read More

08/03/2016

Brexit: Mudslinging begins as mixed messages, propaganda and misinformation dominate debate

Batten down the hatches and tie them tight. There is a storm coming and it’s going to hit everyone. It’s a political storm of course, so expect copious mudslinging from all sides.  Read More

16/02/2016

Design Evolution vs Technology Revolution

Did you know there is such a thing as the VW Golf syndrome? It's not those that simply love the car, but rather more of a condition that most engineers and designers suffer from at some point in their careers.  Read More

18/01/2016

Are we about to say goodbye to the steel industry?

The metals industry's woes continued this week, as Tata Steel, the UK’s largest producer, announced a further 1050 job cuts. While the material has seen a steady decline in demand by most major sectors, its actual manufacture tells another, more troubling, tale.  Read More

17/11/2015

The changing face of engineering

At the time of writing this, I’m at the LiveWorx conference in Germany. The event is run by PTC, which many will know as a CAD and PLM software provider. So, why is it turning its focus away from design and the management of engineering activities, to tell European press and analysts about the Internet of Things?  Read More

22/09/2015

Disruptive technology? More like frustrating promises and slow progress

We are living in an age of ‘disruptive technologies’. At least that’s what everyone keeps telling me. But for me, like many engineers, the promise of it all often falls short of being delivered. And it’s frustrating.  Read More

17/09/2015

Inspired by nature: the next generation of medical textiles

Chemists and materials scientists have long been inspired by Mother Nature. High-performance swimwear based on the texture of sharkskin, and smartphone screens that have learned from the naturally-antireflective coatings in moth eyes are just two high-profile examples. At the University of Bolton, we’re working on a range of bio-inspired materials that may change the way the human body heals itself.  Read More

13/07/2015

Is it time to take humans out of the loop?

I admit it, I'm a pretty terrible back seat driver. It is not so much that I'm particularly vocal with advice to others, it's more that I'm what's called 'a flincher'. Get too close, brake too late or even change lanes, and there I am, quietly tensing up, getting nervous and generally looking uncomfortable.  Read More

18/06/2015

How 'free' are you?

With the General Election now in the dim and distant past, it is time to look forward and get on with things. But, it's got me thinking, how 'free' are we, really?  Read More

04/06/2015

The right creative spark

Industrial designers do speak in a slightly different language to us engineers. At a recent conference the delegates, all industrial designers, were encouraged to get emotional, understand the human problems and even 'love the unknown'. I am not being sniffy or dismissive - these industrial designers were producing some truly beautiful and innovative products - even if it is the design engineers who have to make their concepts a reality.   Read More

14/04/2015

Why engineers should use the pragmatic vote at the election

This will be one of the last Eureka blogs before the General Election on May 7th 2015, after which, it is fairly safe to assume, we are in for some form of administration change – even if it is another coalition. Are we likely to see the Conservatives and Lib Dems partnering again? Probably not, but in a political climate in which principles seem secondary to pragmatism, you can't rule anything out, nor anything in.  Read More

06/03/2015

High volume composite manufacture finally here?

I remember talking to spacecraft engineers about composite materials over 15 years ago, and how the commercial aircraft industry would struggle to ever capitalise on the materials advantageous properties. And they did struggle, but it is hard to now ever imagine Boeing or Airbus ever going back to that low-tech heavy shiny stuff from yesteryear.  Read More

14/01/2015

Why I’m happy in January

January. It can be a bit of a long and depressing month can't it. But there is reason to be cheery.  Read More

13/11/2014

The cost of all this innovation

Is industry in danger of doing a bit of a bank job given this spending spree we're witnessing? Everyone agrees innovation is a good thing, but who exactly is paying for all this rejuvenation? It certainly isn't free.  Read More

20/10/2014

Informal chats, propping up the bar and being sent to Coventry...

It's here again and today, I'll be heading down to Coventry in the advanced party to the Engineering Design Show to set up, prop up the bar, and get ready for two pretty full on days.  Read More

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