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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13/06/2014

Physical testing optimises material properties

Many industries are currently re-evaluating the materials used in products, generally to improve upon cost, weight and performance. However, with this wave of change comes a need for thorough analysis. And while this has seen design engineers make intensive use of simulation software, the need for physical test data to correlate virtual predictions against has become another vital tool in the development process.  Read More

13/06/2014

Polymers find use in engine transmissions

Boston and Toronto based BPG Werks has created an innovative mode of personal transport, dubbed the 'Shredder'. Resembling the love child of Robot Wars' Sir Killalot and a Segway PT. The all-terrain stand-on dual tracked vehicle (DTV) definitely has the cool factor. The DTV allows users to go from zero to a top speed of 25mph, even on steep uneven terrain or through water, in just a few seconds.   Read More

13/06/2014

Polymers give longevity to components in the oil and gas industry

The word 'plastic' can sometimes be a vague term, with many perceiving it as an inferior, low grade material generally used for large volume production of simple everyday items from toys to carrier bags. However, when taking into consideration the extreme and arduous environment faced daily by the oil and gas industry, it is clear to see why engineering plastics are used across the industry on applications varying from the subsea sector through to LNG transportation and offshore.  Read More

13/06/2014

Coating technologies help drive down cost in the aerospace industry

Commercial aviation in the early decades was expensive and exclusive. Today, however, we have come to expect frequent and relatively low cost air travel. But this market explosion has an environmental cost that continues to proliferate around the world.  Read More

13/03/2014

Thermal history coating optimises combustion systems

The inherent inaccessibility and heat of combustion chambers make it an area that is not just difficult to analyse, it's sometimes impossible. But this goes for any hot environment from exhaust systems to turbochargers. Many conventional sensing methods can be ineffective. Though some expensive solutions exist, many engineers simply assume the worst and compensate for a lack of accurate data with over specified materials and over designed components.  Read More

13/03/2014

Composites boost performance of track day car

Track day events have become increasingly popular in the last decade with many motorsport enthusiasts taking to the circuit to get a first hand taste of what it's like to travel around without a speed restriction. The trend has seen a number of mainstream manufacturers bring to market track-ready versions of production vehicles, to cater for individuals that want to drive cars optimised for the track.  Read More

13/03/2014

Which type of composite material is right for you?

Make no mistake, composites are on the increase. The perception that the material is an exotic choice for engineers with big budgets is becoming more dated by the day. Composites are now filtering down from industries such as motorsport and aerospace, and finding more applications, in more industry sectors.  Read More

13/03/2014

3D printing boosts casting operation

Dating back some 2,000 years, sand casting is the epitome of established and traditional manufacture. However, the process is being given a boost by the current buzz-technology, 3D printing.  Read More

13/03/2014

Digital simulation proves no match for physical testing

We live in a digital age. Everything is online and software driven, especially when it comes to design. The CAD companies are quick to tell you that physical prototyping is dead, and that 3D modelling and simulation is the way forward. However, while the phrase 'virtual prototyping' was coined some time ago, most in industry do not yet have the confidence to fully commit to it as a design philosophy.  Read More

13/03/2014

What can be done with waste plastic at end of life?

Questions around what to do with waste plastic at end of its life should be given increasing emphasis at the design stage. Engineering Materials takes a closer look at the options available to engineers.   Read More

12/12/2013

Are environmental concerns helping the plastics industry find new applications?

As the plastics industry sets its sights on increasingly replacing metal, could it be on the cusp of targeting its own applications, replacing plastic with bioplastic? Justin Cunningham investigates.  Read More

12/12/2013

Top 14 materials for 2014

Advanced materials will play a key role in solving tomorrow's technological challenges and societal issues. Here, Engineering Materials looks at 14 of the most promising developments to look out for in 2014.  Read More

12/12/2013

Is additive manufacturing finally ready for lift off?

Additive manufacturing is popular amongst its users, but its practical application can be harder to find. However, as Nasa develop and test fire its next generation space rocket using 3D printed parts we ask, is the technology ready for lift off?   Read More

12/12/2013

Is analysis software really necessary for materials testing?

The potential to capture more data using control electronics and software is having a profound effect on materials testing. But, is all this extra information necessary?  Read More

12/12/2013

UK company fights back against tightening EU regulations

The abundance of European legislation and regulation change in the last 10 years has been game changing for some industries and material users.   Read More

12/12/2013

What role will materials play in making microfluidics a success?

Up until a few days ago I was pretty much unaware of microfluidics despite unwittingly being reliant on them. From blood vessels to the way moisture flows through plants, examples of microfluidics are everywhere in nature and much, if not all, of the life on the planet is driven by their function. The process that nature has been so elegantly able to exploit is increasingly being industrialised for a host of applications.  Read More

12/12/2013

The challenges of getting greener materials into industry

Sustainability is the word of the moment. Governments want everything to be underpinned by it and companies are at pains to stress their commitment to it. Economic, environmental and political factors are increasingly driving everyone to look at how to engineer a more sustainable future.  Read More

12/09/2013

Virtually refined: The engineering success story behind the 2012 Olympics

The design and manufacture of Great Britain's gold medal winning bike helped athletes in the last three Olympic Games win medals.  Read More

12/09/2013

DIY Metallurgy: Making your own metals and alloys

For many, Formula One is the pinnacle. Not only does it attract some of the best drivers in the world, but its engineers are widely regarded as some of today's most motivated and talented.  Read More

12/09/2013

Testing techniques to analyse and control surface properties of materials

There are numerous techniques for manipulating the surface properties of a material. Heat treatment, anodising, shot blasting, peening, plating, painting; the list goes on.   Read More

12/09/2013

Can the bio-plastic known as polylactic acid (PLA) be used in engineering?

The corn derived bio-plastic polylactic acid (PLA) has largely stood in the shadows of oil derived plastics since its discovery some eighty years ago. However, with increasing talk of potential uses, what has changed?   Read More

12/09/2013

Recycled materials find use in automotive interiors

The automotive industry is perhaps one of the most prominent when it comes to trying new materials in high volume production.  Read More

12/09/2013

K Show to set plastics industry agenda

Dubbed the world's premier trade fair for plastics and rubber, K 2013 has just about every industry player present and promises to set out the future developments, trends and challenges facing both material manufacturers and users.  Read More

19/06/2013

Engineering foams look set to make a comeback

Slightly odd looking and – well – quirky, you can see that a recent partnership between Toyota and French design house, Studio Massaud, was about challenging convention. The appearance ME.WE concept car certainly does that by using body panels made of expanded foam known as Arpro.  Read More

18/06/2013

Testing equipment adapts to aerospace industry's move to composites

You might be worried going around British Airways Engineering Heathrow maintenance and repair facility inside Heathrow airport. There are parts everywhere from flaps to engine covers to doors all in need of attention by the facilities skilled maintenance engineers and technicians. Its state of the art workshops make sure the airline's 256 aircraft, and some third party aircraft, operate safely, economically and with the least amount of downtime.  Read More

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