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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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

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

07/06/2016

The world’s blackest material makes its debut in space on board a micro satellite’s star tracker, but what are the benefits?

It’s the material that has spurred the Spinal Tap inspired headline the world over, ‘None more black’. Officially the world’s blackest material, VantaBlack from Brighton based Surrey Nano Systems is moving well beyond development following the materials unveiling some two years ago.   Read More

06/06/2016

Spot the difference

As additive parts are rolled out across industry, they’re increasingly put in to actual service. This is especially true for metal parts, where processes such as selective laser sintering (SLM) have usurped more traditional subtractive fabrication and machining methods.  Read More

06/06/2016

Understanding failure

Joining composite together poses a number of very different issues from traditional materials. In automotive and those more use to working with metals the reliance on welding is no longer a turn to design staple. It is also not possible to drill and tap composite and honeycomb panels so standard fastener can be difficult to use too. And while bonding is also a popular option, it doesn’t bode well later in life for disassembly.  Read More

06/06/2016

Process innovation now the focus of the composites industry

The JEC Show in Paris has become the annual must go to event for composite manufacturers. The talk was once all about the possibilities but this year that turned firmly on the practicalities. While the composites industry has always been inextricably linked to lightweight parts, this year’s show was keen to highlight that high volume composite parts aren’t a pipe dream, but a production ready reality.   Read More

06/06/2016

Quartz fibre prepreg

To enable the manufacture of an intricately-shaped watch case for prestigious Swiss brand Richard Mille, North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT) has developed a unique thin ply quartz prepreg. The 52g/m2 material made its debut in the exclusive RM 27-02 Rafael Nadal watch first worn by the Spanish tennis player at the French Open in May 2015.  Read More

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