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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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

29/09/2014

How do I get a metallic finish?

Metallic finishes can be achieved in a variety of ways depending on the substrate material, quantities involved and goal of the treatment. The following is a short review of the more common options that are commercially available.  Read More

15/09/2014

What to make of the ‘makers’

I thought I was getting too old to think about joining any sort of movement, particularly one with a reputation for having a bit of a cult following. I've heard murmurs about this 'maker movement' for some time now, but I've never quite got it.  Read More

11/09/2014

Being clear about clarity

We are often asked to produce prototypes of components with varying levels of clarity and translucency. The usual options are glass or plastic parts. When it comes to glass we have to admit defeat as soon as we move away from fundamentally flat geometries (although engraving is practical to some quite significant depths). However there are a number of options for clear or translucent plastic parts. In this blog, we take at look at your options…  Read More

22/07/2014

Is rail industry set to lightweight with composites?

Introducing exotic materials into sectors where metallic's have ruled, has always been a challenge for the composites industry. However, after making successful inroads in to the automotive sector, it has now set its sights on rail applications.  Read More

21/07/2014

The option when producing a prototype in metal – how to decide on process and materials

In most instances metal prototyping is going to cost more than producing the equivalent part in plastic, so your first question should be, do I really need it produced in metal? It might be worth considering some of the interesting RP applications/materials out there, such as metal coated stereolithography for instance – it would be more cost effective.  Read More

21/07/2014

The option when producing a prototype in metal – how to decide on process and materials

In most instances metal prototyping is going to cost more than producing the equivalent part in plastic, so your first question should be, do I really need it produced in metal? It might be worth considering some of the interesting RP applications/materials out there, such as metal coated stereolithography for instance – it would be more cost effective.  Read More

03/07/2014

Injection moulded low volume custom enclosures

It's often a race against time to get enclosures for new products made. They are usually left until the last minute when all the electronics and internal workings are finalised. Enclosures can range from standard off the shelf designs to 3D printed customised cases. So, what are the options?  Read More

01/07/2014

Should 'Designed in Britian' mean 'Made in Britain'?

Chancellor George Osborne has previously announced, "We want the words 'Made in Britain,' 'Created in Britain,' Designed in Britain,' 'Invented in Britain' to drive our nation forward. A Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers. That is how we will create jobs and support families." Whilst it is easy to dismiss this as political hyperbole, it does say about our manufacturing economy, and the Government's understanding of it. My question is, how do we prevent products that are 'Designed in Britain' and 'Invented in Britain' being made somewhere else?  Read More

17/06/2014

The winning position

One of the main goals of Engineering Materials is to encourage the use of material innovations and corresponding technology, to enable product advantage. Go lighter, stronger, quicker, or whatever, by using the right material, in the right way, for the right application. And this is a fluid process that is ever changing.  Read More

09/06/2014

How to improve the surface finish of your AM component

One of the drawbacks of Additive Manufacturing (AM) or 3D Printing (3DP) is the quality of the surface finish. Building parts layer by layer will naturally result in visible layering or 'stair stepping' as it is often known.  Read More

19/05/2014

Fracking: Why it is going to happen

Green ink to the ready, it's about to get controversial! ...or just leave a comment below.   Read More

02/04/2014

The cost conundrum

Self-improvement comes with a cost. Whether it's a personal or company-wide goal, investment of time and money - upfront - is a necessary expense. And while we would like to see the fruits of our labour quickly, the reality is that real change takes time, which makes justifying that initial outlay difficult.  Read More

02/04/2014

Competition Fuels the Service Transformation in Europe

The Service Council's (TSC) service market outlook research for 2014 highlighted that increasing competition was tabbed as the top challenge for organisations looking to emerge from years of financial and global economic uncertainty. This competition was initially felt in the sale of product and equipment but is now increasingly being felt in the service and support space as companies vie for profitability on the service side of the business.  Read More

17/02/2014

Keeping up with technology

If you're still trying to get your head around 3D printing, and how to use it, then you're already behind the curve. That's because 3D printing has become old news to some with the focus now firmly on 4D printing.  Read More

23/01/2014

Managing Complexity in Software-Intensive Products: Risks and Rewards

Software-intensive products are growing so rapidly that many manufacturers now employ more software engineers in product development than in their IT departments. Many have more software engineers than mechanical engineers.   Read More

20/01/2014

Realistic expectations

There is quite a lot of debate at the moment around fracking that is leading to wider discussions about the UK's energy mix. The problem is largely one of ignorance and desire of the impossible. Politicians have been unable to get the message across that compromises have to be made and that cheap, clean, ubiquitous energy is not yet a possibility for the UK.  Read More

16/12/2013

Printing guns - should we be worried?

Earlier this year there was furore when it was reported that a 3D printed gun made out of plastic, which really didn't work well, was produced. And then last month it was announced that the 'World's first' 3D printed metal gun had been produced. If you have watched the video of the month you will have seen that it actually works pretty well, showing no sign of damage after firing more than 600 rounds. Perhaps it was obvious that someone was going to take on this challenge sooner or later, but should we be worried?  Read More

11/11/2013

Don’t count out the traditional

While you may often read about the developments of nano materials, graphene, the benefits of carbon fibre or how in the future everything will be made from a high strength plastic, for the most part UK manufacturers rely on making parts from metal, using traditional processes.  Read More

21/10/2013

Why cut knurling patterns is the dinosaur of die casting

Die casting might not be regarded as a dynamic type of engineering by many, but changes are afoot in the industry when it comes to knurling patterns.  Read More

10/10/2013

Product Innovation… More than a Bright Idea

Early this morning I endured my second session of shockwave therapy for a painful case of plantar fasciitis. While biting my knuckles and holding back tears, the following thoughts crept into my head: Why did I ever decide to train for a half marathon? Who figured out shockwaves could help cure foot afflictions? Were they sadists?  Read More

10/10/2013

Biodegradable plastic: good, bad or ugly?

If you have ever been on a diet you'll know how confusing it can be. You think something is healthy, only to find out later that the benefits aren't quite as hoped. Humus, nuts and smoothies – for example – can be laden with calories. The same goes for many sports drinks. So while you think you are doing the right thing, you can be investing in a false economy.  Read More

11/09/2013

Some ideas take time...

It seems the demand for innovation is greater than ever, yet it is getting harder to come by. As the world gets more complex, so too are the products and solutions expected from engineers. A survey by IBM of 1500 CEO's from around the world ranked creativity as the single most important competency in business today.  Read More

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