Engineering Materials Features

Delve more deeply in to the world of materials innovation. Our expert editors bring you a host of the latest thinking, innovation, materials views and opinions from industry about how to improve design and what you should be thinking about when it comes to questions about materials in design and engineering.

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05/09/2017

Composite to replace aluminium in gearbox housing design

When it comes to electric vehicles, keeping weight down is paramount in ensuring long range. In addition to the bodywork, drive components such as the housings, typically used in double reduction gearboxes, are of interest in terms of materials substitution and metal replacement.  Read More

05/09/2017

Recycling carbon fibre

The recycling of carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRPs) not only makes sense from environmental and economic perspectives, it could also be key in increasing the penetration of these lightweight but expensive materials in high-volume markets such as automotive.   Read More

05/09/2017

The Prototype Kilogram is losing weight, prompting efforts to redefine the base unit for measuring mass

The International Prototype Kilogram (IPK) is a physical block weighing as close to 1kg as is physically possible to engineer. It is used as the primary standard for virtually all units of mass and is the mass upon which the weight of a kilogram is based and all traceability mass measurements are measured. However, a strange phenomenon has been observed – the IPK is getting lighter. The reason, however, is unknown.  Read More

05/09/2017

Carbon fibre replacing metals and polymers as material of choice in medical applications

If you dig a little deeper into composite material application, you’ll soon uncover a hugely diverse range of less obvious uses in equipment for patient treatment and diagnosis, sometimes even beneath the skin of the patients themselves.  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

02/06/2017

Getting the right balance between innovation and commercialisation

Maintaining a creative culture whilst ensuring commercial success is an ongoing dilemma for many engineering and materials firms. So how can inventions be used more effectively to exploit commercial advantage and open up new opportunities?  Read More

07/03/2017

UK vies to become carbon fibre hub as supply chain initiative begins

As Europe's automotive industry grapples to lightweight structures and meet impending emission regulations, manufacturers are still reluctant to use carbon fibre composites. So, can a recent UK project bridge the divide? James Bakewell finds out.  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

A low cost nano-coating to protect electronic devices from water

The smartphone market has grown on average 32% a year for the last decade, making it one of the fastest growing areas of consumer technology on the planet. The impact of the smartphone has fundamentally changed how we interact socially and has become the technology interface for everything from cars to thermostats to wearables.  Read More

23/02/2017

Tubular assemblies reduce chassis weight without performance loss

All powertrain solutions demand that every part of the vehicle is as light as possible to maximise vehicle range, performance and efficiency. What is essential in vehicle design, with strict safety targets and narrow profit margins, is balancing weight, with the performance of the materials, and the cost of the process.  Read More

23/02/2017

Testing the long term effects of radiation exposure on material properties

Materials for nuclear applications have a certain mystique. Like the quantum world, the normal rules don’t quite apply and those that do are, as yet, not exactly known. Categorising properties and defining behaviour is vital to both next generation nuclear fission power plants and future nuclear fusion reactors. This is why the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has decided to bring about fresh focus on materials for nuclear applications in its all-new £10 million Culham Materials Research Facility (MRF), part of the Culham Science Centre.  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

Low cost carbon fibre breakthrough

While its properties might be considered premium, so too is the price tag associated with carbon fibre production and processing, making the lightweight material out of reach of the mass market. James Bakewell finds out if this is about to change?  Read More

06/12/2016

Extreme temp testing

Materials need to be tested at temperatures that mimic their eventual area of use. But what if, as is the case in aerospace engine development, those temperatures range from below zero to more than 1000°C? Tom Austin-Morgan finds out how the aerospace industry is overcoming the challenge.  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

Getting the ‘wonder’ material Graphene to market

As much as Engineering Materials encourage the use of different materials, using the right material for the right application is rarely as straightforward as it sounds. And what happens when something better comes along like graphene?  Read More

06/12/2016

Is it really feasible to engineer materials that will self-repair?

Fibre-reinforced plastics are rapidly becoming the materials of choice for applications where both high mechanical performance and low weight are required. Boeing and Airbus have used these materials extensively in the latest generations of their aircraft, and carmakers – most notably BMW – are working feverishly to find affordable ways of getting them into their vehicles.  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

Two hypercar designers that choose metal over composites

While many automotive manufacturers are looking at composites and aluminium to lightweight, two supercar designers are turning to nature to find fresh innovation in metals. Engineering Materials finds out more.  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

11/08/2016

Metal manipulation

As aluminium becomes the lightweight material of choice for many, we look at one project that aims to secure supply, reduce production emissions and keep value in scrap. Justin Cunningham finds out more about JLR’s REALCAR project.  Read More

07/06/2016

The lightest solid on Earth

It is so light, it’s said that this material can balance on a Dandelion without even deforming the individual seed heads. Engineering Materials finds out more about this modern day marvel.   Read More

07/06/2016

Carbyne: twice the strength of Graphene?

The weird and wonderful world of nano-materials is gathering pace with many showing genuine promise. But while graphene has been seen as king, has it now been usurped?   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

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