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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11/06/2018

Class knuckle

Ford C-segment cars, such as the Focus, could become more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly thanks to a lightweight rear suspension component designed by the CLASS (composite lightweight automotive suspension system) research project team.  Read More

11/06/2018

Slashing titanium production costs allows broader range of applications

In many senses, titanium fulfils the criteria one might expect of a ‘wonder material’. It is significantly stronger than most commonly-used grades of steel, but is approximately half the density (and thus weight), meaning it is of huge value in any application where robustness, corrosion resistance or weight reduction are critical factors. These attributes mean that titanium has seen extensive use in applications such as aerospace, defence and motorsport.  Read More

11/06/2018

Online databases make the sourcing and supply of materials a less daunting task

As with all industries, digitisation is transforming the materials sector. The ability to identify, specify and source the right material for the right task without having to wade through endless documentation is one way that digitalisation is having an effect.  Read More

11/06/2018

New bonding applications require better, more robust materials

The increasing incidence of sophisticated additive manufacturing applications means that better and more sophisticated material and bonding technologies are having to be developed in order to keep up.  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

12/03/2018

Is the automotive industry about to give up on advanced materials?

The automotive industry is on the cusp of some drastic changes. According to a recent report by analyst IHS Markit, changes in personal transportation over the next 20 years will be more profound than anything experienced over the past century. The signs are clear as electric vehicle (EV) production increases, ‘mobility-as-a-service’ – such as ride-hailing app Uber – continue to disrupt and autonomous vehicles (AVs) begin to emerge.  Read More

09/03/2018

Shape memory alloy allows for foldable wings without actuators

Nasa has successfully applied a new technology in flight that allows aircraft to fold their wings to different angles while in the air.  Read More

08/03/2018

Rail engineers are using advanced materials to improve operational efficiency

The buzz around metal replacement and lightweighting has become synonymous with automotive developments, with carmakers now spending millions to strip out excess kilos. The ultimate driver is, of course, efficiency and the push to meet impending EU tailpipe emission limits of 95g of CO2 per km across a manufacturer’s fleet. It is, and continues to be, a mammoth challenge.  Read More

07/03/2018

How a German automotive giant helped the country’s downhill sledging team to success at the Winter Olympics

The German Bobsleigh and Sled Sports Federation (BSD) athletes had a score to settle at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, last month. Four years ago, the bob athletes came away without a medal. But, at the three world championships that followed, Germany returned to winning ways and appears to be ready for the Olympics. So, what’s changed?  Read More

06/11/2017

When bonding dissimilar types of materials, surface treatment can be used to improve adhesion

Whether bonding metal to plastic, silicon to glass, polymers to other polymers of different durometers, biological content to polymeric microtiter plates or even bonding to polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), plasma can be used to promote adhesion.  Read More

06/11/2017

Lightweighting process developments are helping automotive engineers to meet incoming legislation

According to the European Commission, cars are responsible for around 12% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions. However, by 2021, phased in from 2020, the fleet average of all new passenger cars needs to produce no more than 95g of CO2 per km, which is a 40% reduction in comparison to the 2007 fleet average of 158.7g of CO2 per km. This demands a fuel consumption of around 4.1L per 100km (65mpg) for petrol and 3.6L per 100km for diesel (57mpg).  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

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

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