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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11/08/2016

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

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

09/03/2016

Printed sensors for real time monitoring of metal cutting tools during production engineering and manufacturing

The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is part of a UK based collaboration that aims to develop novel sensing technologies for the real time monitoring of machined metal parts.  Read More

08/03/2016

Clean skies: Nasa research for green future aircraft and plane design

Nasa targets some ambitious reductions in aircraft emissions and has piloted some seemingly bizarre to outright amazing concepts. In all cases, materials innovation remains key.  Read More

08/03/2016

Natural fibre composites vs carbon fibres: Engineering lighter cars

A UK funded project is aiming to develop automotive structures using flax fibres and a bio-epoxy resin intermingled with carbon fibres. The project called CARBIO, is developing hybrid composite materials to produce lighter, cheaper, and environmentally sound parts.  Read More

08/03/2016

Cheaper carbon fibre: injection moulding thermoplastic and recycled carbon fibre to make BMW clutch pedal

Carbon fibre remains a premium and expensive material, out of reach for most mainstream automotive manufacturers. However, recycling virgin fibres and mixing them with a thermoplastic offers an affordable alternative.  Read More

08/03/2016

Composite volume production: lightweight material challenge

While everyone agrees composites could be a good fit for automotive – at least when it comes to lightweighting – producing parts in the volumes needed is an area that continues to challenge.   Read More

08/03/2016

Engineering micro structure of steel and other metals by bi-axial deformation tests and analysis

Recreating the bi-axial deformation experienced by steel during stamp forming is allowing researchers to engineer the microstructure and yield lighter parts.  Read More

08/03/2016

Plastic pollution: project set to clean the ocean in 10 years

The oceans do a good job at hiding rubbish, but they are struggling with the overwhelming quantity being dumped in them. Tackling the problem over such a vast area is a mind boggling challenge. So, who better, than a teenager to try and tackle it.  Read More

08/03/2016

Graphene in car engine's oil benefits lubrication and reduces fuel consumption

The use of graphene balls in oil could yield significant engine efficiency improvements in coming years.   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

08/03/2016

Fluorescent oil on Nasa plane to visualise flow

Researchers in the US have sprayed a fluorescent oil on a wind tunnel model to visualise the flow of air over the wing and body of an aircraft.  Read More

08/03/2016

Ballistic helmet for special forces has bulletproof aesthetics

UK product design consultancy 3form Design has designed a helmet for US ballistic protection equipment manufacturer United Shield. The helmet known as RAID needs to carry and hold numerous pieces of equipment, meet ballistic requirements while also ‘looking good’. It should be so cool, says 3form,that Tom Cruise will be wearing it in his next movie.  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

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