Rubber and Plastics Features

Find in depth design and production features about plastics and rubber innovations. Our editors bring you a host of the latest thinking, innovation, materials views and opinions about rubber and plastic materials, how to design to get the most from them, their manufacture, and then what to do when it comes to disposal.

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30/05/2019

Silverstone hosts latest innovations

The co-located FAST and Engineering Materials Live exhibitions gave visitors a range of valuable insights.  Read More

28/02/2019

The environmental impact of plastic is driving development of bio-based plastics, but these pose their own difficulties

There can be few hotter topics in the materials sector than the use of plastics. For more than 50 years, global production and consumption of plastics have continued to rise. In 2016, the world produced around 335 million tonnes. However, continued support for the introduction of bio-based products continues to gain momentum, suggesting that wider market penetration is around the corner. Market data shared at the 12th European Bioplastics Conference last November indicated: “Global production capacities of bioplastics are expected to grow by 20% in the next five years.”  Read More

31/10/2018

Are 3D printing materials sustainable?

With additive manufacturing (AM) techniques being widely adopted in industries worldwide, design engineering and manufacturing are undoubtedly being ushered into a new era of development. But, how environmentally sustainable are AM materials?  Read More

11/06/2018

Materials take centre stage

Another successful Engineering Materials Live event was held in May, with visitors able to access some hugely valuable information to aid them in their materials selection.  Read More

06/11/2017

Assessing the impact

The plastics industry is one of the UK’s largest sectors with strong links to the EU. Here, James Bakewell finds out from the British Plastics Federation about what Brexit means and if manufacturers should be worried.  Read More

06/11/2017

Finding a suitable alternative material can be a daunting step into the unknown

For every engineer, specifying a new material for a product – especially if the product’s already in production – can be a daunting task. There is a worry of the unknown, that phone call to tell you about unforeseen production problems, or even worse, of a potential product recall. For that reason, material selection can be, somewhat, of a conservative process that’s slow going and largely driven by pragmatism. This is no truer than in the medical sector where a justifiably stringent amount of regulation restricts many materials and outlines all kinds of tests and requirements beyond simply strength or density, for example.  Read More

06/06/2017

Will Ford's composites move finally crack the automotive industry's throughput dilemma?

Carbon fibre is making a slow but seemingly inevitable move into the automotive industry. But can engineers crack the throughput difficulties that have dogged uptake? James Bakewell reports.  Read More

06/03/2017

Shaping Lives – The Impact of 3D Printing Within the Healthcare Industry

The medical industry is a field in which innovation and new technologies have a direct impact on improving processes, operation results and saving lives. Stratasys’ additive manufacturing technology is a key enabler to this.  Read More

23/02/2017

Dyson’s air purifier engineers fresh air like filtering water

The average pair of human lungs breathes 10L of air every minute. Air quality has an immediate effect on well-being and exposure to poor air quality can have lasting implications to health. A recent EU review estimates 50,000 Britons are dying prematurely each year from diseases caused by air pollutants, and six million working days are lost from air pollution-related illnesses. Among the most damaging pollutants are fine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. These tiny particles are suspended in the atmosphere and when inhaled, can cling to the lining of the lungs and cause respiratory illness and other lasting health issues.  Read More

06/12/2016

The project using CO2 to make plastics

For those involved in software, ‘hackathons’ have become a popular and effective way of quickly coming up with solutions to problems. The origins of hackathons started with students and enthusiasts, but since the mid-2000s companies have been interesting in adopting the philosophy as a way of rapidly developing innovation, with advocates including Skype and Adobe.  Read More

06/12/2016

Overcoming the stigma of using recycled materials in class A automotive surface parts

Using recycled plastics for class A surfaces might raise a few eyebrows by those working in the automotive industry. The notorious variation in properties has meant that anything ‘recycled’ stays firmly under the bonnet where it is out of sight, and touch, of the consumer.  Read More

30/08/2016

3D printing meta-materials: combining multi-materials at the print head to produce almost any properties

Combining different polymers in different combinations per layer of 3D printed material, is leading to the development of an entirely new palette of materials. Justin Cunningham reports.  Read More

30/08/2016

Airbus 3D print a plane as flying testbed

As industries push the boundaries of additive manufacturing, an Airbus engineer wanted to answer the ultimate question, ‘can you 3D print an entire aircraft?’  Read More

07/06/2016

The secrets of why spider threads stay taut are inspiring the development of bio-inspired composite fibres

Like many before, scientists from the University of Oxford and the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris have taken inspiration from spider webs to create hybrid wire technology. The technique that’s been developed could be used in applications including microfabrication of complex structures, reversible micro-motors and self-tensioned stretchable systems.  Read More

07/06/2016

A high thermally conductive plastic is making LEDs more efficient and cheaper

The fluorescent light bulb was seen as a key step in reducing the energy consumption of consumers. Yet as incandescent light bulbs were phased out, increasing concerns were raised over the items environmental credentials.   Read More

06/06/2016

Staring at a tumour

Additive manufacturing is changing the way many sectors approach product development. However, outside of engineering, it is also being used by surgeons to revolutionise the way they approach major operations.  Read More

08/03/2016

Polymer embedded damage detection

Detecting micro-cracks or damage to structures has always been the bane of engineers. Here, Engineering Materials looks at research that could make hidden damage visible, as it happens.  Read More

08/03/2016

Metallising plastic: High temperature polymer gets metal finish

A high temperature plastic has been metallised by Albis Plastic to make a car reflector. Using vapour application, a thin metal layer is applied to the surface of the thermoplastic inside a vacuum.  Read More

09/12/2015

The Weighting Game

Automotive researchers and engineers are looking for ways to knock the fat off nearly every part of a vehicle in their efforts to achieve higher fuel economy.  Read More

09/12/2015

Computational Chemistry

Computer giant IBM has used its computational nous to develop a new type of polymer that is stronger than bone, self healing and fully recyclable. Engineering Materials charts the progress of this breakthrough.   Read More

09/12/2015

Materials increasingly self repair

Self repairing materials are showing evermore impressive results. Here we look at two recent impressive examples that could soon be set for real world application.  Read More

09/12/2015

Sintering glass

What started off as a course project has developed in to a process of printing glass that is both transparent and structurally sound.   Read More

09/12/2015

Largest diamond in a century

The second largest diamond ever has been extracted from a mine in Botswana.   Read More

11/09/2015

Productionising 3D printing

Additive manufacturing is having a profound effect on the way some engineers produce plastic parts. Ben Hargreaves and Justin Cunningham look at some pioneering aerospace examples that could see the technology exploited more widely.  Read More

10/09/2015

Resurrecting the plastic engine

We catch up with the inventor and instigator of the original Polimotor to see what has changed, and why the project is returning to frontline development. Justin Cunningham tells the story.  Read More

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